Industrial Chemicals The Cause Of Unexplained Illnesses ?

The following is a reproduction of a Millennium Health Centre editorial article which appeared in the Seaway News newspaper in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. The content is shortened to accommodate a newspaper space allotment. As such, it is not academically cited with references. These are available, so please feel free to email your questions.


Dr. Stephen F. Jones B.Comm., N.D.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

A recent column examined the role that toxic metals such as lead, mercury or aluminum might play in patients who are chronically ill. The column explained that conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer's, Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, autism, several neurological conditions and many cancers (to name but a few medical conditions) have been linked to toxic levels of these 'heavy' metals in the human body.

Well, this column seemed to have struck a cord with readers of this paper, as it generated numerous correspondences. The readers asked if any other toxins (ie. besides 'heavy' metals) could cause chronic illnesses, what tests are needed to 'find' other toxins in the body and what can be done if they are, in fact, found. As such, today column will attempt to provide a brief overview of this complicated subject.

To 'cut to the chase', suffice it to say that many chemicals are known to cause an extensive array of medical conditions and symptoms. These chemicals can come from a wide range of sources including factories and work places to basic household cleaners, cosmetic products, car emissions and, of course, cigarette smoke. What these chemicals do is enter the body (by breathing them in, handling them, eating them on foods etc.) and disrupt the complicated chemical reactions that occur in every cell, organ and tissue. The process is actually similar to the way in which pesticides kill bugs. On-going exposures to these chemicals can, therefore, profoundly alter your body's chemical and hormonal functioning and make you extremely ill. The challenge for doctors is that routine blood tests can be (and often are) completely normal even when a patient has a toxic level of these chemicals.

How believable is this you ask? Well, one medical journal summarized the issue by stating that "today, we are witnessing another medical anomaly-a unique pattern of illnesses involving chemically exposed groups in more than a dozen countries, who subsequently report multisystem symptoms and new-onset chemical, food, and drug intolerances" (Ann N.Y. Acad Sci., 2001 Mar;933:1-23). What does this jargon mean? It means that researchers are seeing a growing trend where patients develop a large range of illnesses after exposure to common chemicals. The 'phenomenon' is "real", its recognized by the world's leading medical authorities and it requires proper diagnosis.

So how does one know if they have a toxic level of chemicals in their body? The answer is to have a doctor familiar with this disease process order a urine test conducted by a specialized laboratory. This advanced test will measure levels of the chemicals linked to serious illnesses. Examples of chemicals that can be detected on this test include 'Xylene', 'Benzene' and 'Toluene'. These chemicals can cause numerous health conditions. For instance, 'Xylene' can cause chronic fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, anxiety and kidney damage. 'Benzene' can cause some cancers, eye problems, impair your central nervous system and can cause bone marrow problems. 'Toluene' can cause impaired motor and mental functioning, dizziness and much more.

Patients can develop toxic levels of these from working in environments where these are used, living in communities with plants that discharge these into the air, water and soil and by personally exposing themselves (such as with smoking, household cleaning products, paints and solvents etc.).

If the modern urine testing reveals chemicals in a patient's body a very clear discussion is then required with the doctor involved. These chemicals are highly toxic and must be removed from the body. If they are not removed conditions can worsen, new conditions can develop and pharmaceutical medications will only serve to treat the symptoms of the toxicity.

Now, a description of how a doctor would remove these chemicals from a patient's body is beyond the space allowed in this column. In a nutshell however, intravenous therapies exist to help the body remove these chemicals and offer the fastest, most realistic option. Various 'detox' approaches such as saunas, homeopathic medicines, bowel 'cleansers' will have limited benefit.

So, with increasing media reports of chemicals in our environment, readers may have a good reason to be worried about these substances. The good news is that modern medicine has allowed for ways to test, diagnose and treat this growing problem.

Best of health to all readers and may I extend my wishes for a happy and healthy 2006.

Readers may write this newspaper or email Dr. Jones at with any inquiries.