From chemicals and cosmetics to the fillings in your teeth and more, discover dangerous toxins that may be putting your health at risk.
Accelerated Puberty Rates
An alarming new study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that boys are beginning puberty much sooner than before. Researchers from the University of North Carolina found that boys are now reaching puberty as early as 9 years old, when 30 years ago the average was 11 to 12 years of age. The rates of earlier puberty are particularly evident in children of African American descent. Accelerated puberty is also increasing in girls, but doctors have yet to determine the exact cause of this shift in either gender; however, researchers speculate that environmental chemicals may be an underlying factor. Repeated exposure to an array of hormone-disrupting chemicals found in many everyday products may be to blame, but more research needs to be conducted before doctors will have any definitive answers.
The Doctors discuss the possible causes of early puberty.
“It’s important to know, as parents, that these things are happening earlier so that you can talk to your kids about these changes to expect,” OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says.
“Certainly, physically, the kids are maturing faster but mentally, they’re not,” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears adds.
Premature puberty is believed to be associated with negative health effects later in life, as it can a sign of other early onset conditions, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Health Investigation: Are Mercury Fillings Toxic?
The Doctors’ Investigative Reporter, Melanie Woodrow, explores one woman’s startling claim that the mercury in her dental fillings may have led to her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
Millions of Americans have silver amalgam dental fillings containing roughly 50 percent mercury by weight. While mercury is considered a toxic element, the Food and Drug Administration states that silver amalgam fillings in the mouth are safe.
Board-certified neurologist Dr. Barbara Giesser agrees with the FDA, saying, “You’d have to have mercury vapor from about 500 amalgam surfaces, or a couple of hundred fillings to release the amount of mercury that would end up being toxic.”
However, some doctors and patients have reasons to disagree. Dr. Michael Bernui, a board-certified osteopathic family physician, began treating his patient, Stacy, for mercury toxicity several years ago.
“Why should we take something that the EPA will not allow us to throw into the trashcan and just discard with the regular trash but leave it in someone’s mouth when it’s so potentially toxic?” Dr. Bernui asks.
Stacy, a mother of two, had recently visited her dentist to have four aging silver amalgam fillings extracted and replaced with four new ones.
“I started having this heavy metal taste in my mouth,” Stacy recalls.
The metallic taste was the first of other alarming symptoms, such as prolonged headaches, blurred vision and facial tingling and numbness. Soon after the onset of symptoms, Stacy woke up and was unable to walk.
“I stumbled out of bed and couldn’t make it to the restroom,” she says.
An MRI showed that Stacy had multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Her diagnosis of MS was shown to be in an early stage, but Stacy believed her silver amalgam fillings triggered her illness. Stacy had the silver amalgam fillings removed and replaced with a composite material in a careful operation performed by Dr. Ada Frazier of The Smile Factory Wellness Dental Clinic. The procedure involved gas masks, suction devices and ionizers to reduce further mercury exposure. Since having her silver amalgam fillings taken out, Stacy claims that her symptoms have subsided and points out that no additional MS activity has shown up on MRI scans.
Despite Stacy’s story, the FDA, the American Dental Association and even the National Multiple Sclerosis Society dismiss the idea that silver amalgam fillings are a cause of MS or any other health concern.
The FDA said in a statement that "the available clinical data has not found evidence for the general population of an association between the use of dental amalgam and adverse health effects."
Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a spokesman for the American Dental Association, defends the use of amalgam fillings.
“The types of data that [Dr. Haley] is reporting have not been replicated in peer-reviewed scientific studies," Dr. Hewlett says. "Dr. Haley has failed to replicate the conditions inside the mouth in doing the type of test that he demonstrated. The mouth is wet; it has saliva, which has water and protein, and that provides a barrier to vapor coming off," he adds.
"Patients should discuss this with their dentist and figure out what is going to be best for them. For some people, amalgam may not be the answer, but it’s an individual choice, and the ADA strongly feels that that choice should continue to be available for patients,” Dr. Hewlett says.
Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning
• Metallic taste
• Respiratory issues
• Neuromuscular changes
• Performance deficits on cognitive tests
• Kidney malfunction, respiratory failure and death at higher exposures
“I do think that if you had a mouthful of these [silver amalgam fillings] and you had a neurologic problem, it’s probably worth at least discussing it with your doctor, if it’s a concern,” Dr. Travis says. “The other thing is [that] there are alternative fillings available, so if you’re worried about it, you can tell your dentist. It’s your choice as a consumer and a patient.”
Toxic Nail Polish?
Joy writes that she experienced swollen lips, chapped eyes and itchy rashes for months and wonders whether a new nail polish could be triggering her condition.
The Doctors discuss several possible chemicals found in nail polish that could cause such a reaction and suggest that Joy schedule a formal allergy test.
Toxic Drug Addiction
Dondus’ 23-year-old daughter, Britney, recently died because of complications related to heroin addiction. Britney's younger sister, 22-year-old Jessica, is also battling drug addiction.
“Jessica always looked up to Britney as her big sister, as her best friend. They pretty much did everything together, including drugs,” Dondus says.
Alexis, Jessica’s 17-year-old sister, says Jessica was devastated by Britney’s death and sunk deeper into addiction.
“When Britney passed away, Jessica was very depressed. You could just tell Jessica lost something so great to her that she didn’t know what to do,” Alexis says.
Dondus is still mourning the loss of her oldest daughter and is afraid that if Jessica continues down the same path, she'll lose her, too.
“Now, I’m here struggling with one dead daughter and one daughter on the way if she doesn’t get help,” Dondus says. “Her addiction is a lot bigger than me.”
"There are currently 16 million illicit opioid users worldwide," Dr. Travis states. "These are staggering numbers [and] they continue to climb. That's why we need to create awareness; we need to save heroin users before it's too late."
Staging an Intervention
Mother and son interventionists of Vital Intervention Professionals (VIP) Recovery, Debbie and Brandon Knauss, help Jessica’s family stage an intervention.
“I can’t deny that heroin has total control over me,” Jessica says. “I’m powerless because of it.”
Jessica claims that she’s been clean for 16 days and that she didn’t have to take medication for the withdrawal symptoms. But Brandon, a former addict himself, questions how Jessica quit “cold turkey."
Will Jessica Accept Help?
Dondus, Debbie and Brandon join Dr. Travis in the studio. Dr. Travis expresses concern about Jessica’s reaction to the intervention.
“Usually, there’s a reaction, almost an anger,” he says. “It seemed like a detachment to me.”
Dondus reveals that Jessica was in a drug treatment facility earlier, but her family had taken her out of treatment when her sister went into the hospital. Jessica never returned to rehab after Britney’s death.
For more information about the products mentioned on this show, please go to Related Resources
Sign Up for the Newsletter| Show Page |Talk about the Show | Join The Doctors Social Network
Allergies | Anti-Aging | Cosmetic Surgery | Fitness & Weight Loss
Parenting | Pregnancy | Recipes | Safety | Sex