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International symposium on chemical pollution and environmental diseases
Friday 1 October 2010
International symposium on chemical pollution and environmental diseases held in Rome
A prestigious group of international researchers, scholars, scientists and physicians met in Italy last week for a symposium on New Environmental Diseases. The event was held at the Chamber of Deputees Congress Hall, Rome, and was organized by the Association for Environmental and Chronic Toxic Injury.
A prestigious group of international scholars, scientists and physicians met in Rome Friday for a symposium on New Environmental Diseases. The researchers presented their current findings on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Electromagnetic Hyper Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, with some discussion about other emerging neuro-degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s also called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
The symposium was held at the Chamber of Deputees Congress Hall and was organized by the Association for Environmental and Chronic Toxic Injury (Associazione Malattie da Intossicazione Cronica e/o Ambientale or AMICA), the Italian organization that works for the rights of people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and Electromagnetic Hyper Sensitivity (EHS).
Supporting AMICA on the event organization was MeP Domenico Scilipoti, an oncologist and holistic doctor who has drafted law on environmental diseases and disabilities and for the phase out of dental amalgams.
“More and more scientific evidence shows how daily chemical exposures at low doses can affect our health,” said Francesca Romana Orlando, vice president of AMICA. “With this event we would like to create a bridge between science and politics in order to have a new legislation particularly for the protection of those affected by Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Electromagnetic Hyper Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia; these diseases seem to be correlated one to the other.”
Orlando has just published the book Il Cerchio Perfetto (The Perfect Circle), about the link between industry, politics, academics and media and its role in the hiding of toxic dangers to the public opinion.
“Just a few weeks ago at the Senate Commission for Health the debate about the draft laws for the recognition of MCS as an epidemic diseases started: the prevalence of this illness is about 10% of the population and in Italy the patients still don’t have any hospital where to get any medical treatment in a proper environment,” said Silvia Bigeschi, who also serves as a vice president at AMICA.
There are 10 initiatives currently underway at the Italian Parliament working toward laws for the recognition of MCS as an epidemic disease. Just the day before the environmental diseases event, AMICA presented a petition with more than 10,000 signatures asking for the approval of a law for MCS. AMICA also presented a petition to the Ministry of Health for the total phase out of dental mercury, since many cases of MCS, CFS and EHS seem to be triggered by amalgams.
Last week’s symposium was divided into four sessions.
The first session was about diagnostic approaches for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia (FM). Prof. Giuseppe Genovesi of the University of Rome La Sapienza and Dr. Chiara De Luca, head of the laboratory BILARA at the Dermatological Institute Immacolata of Rome, presented the results of a study on oxidative stress and genetics in MCS patients, which was recently published inToxicology Applied Pharmacology (2010 Apr 26).
While Dr. De Luca focused on the clear evidence of oxidative stress in these patients, such as the lack of enzyme catalasis and GST, Prof. Genovesi stressed the fact that the results don’t show the prevalence of one specific genetic polymorphism, but most of the patients had one or more genetic factors inducing a lower de-toxification. He also announced that they are going to test the genetic predisposition of the enzyme catalasis, since this is so typically low in MCS patients.
Dr. Alberto Migliore, the chief of Rheumatology Department at the S. Pietro Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome, who published a study about the comorbidity of MCS and Sjogren Syndrome, also presented. Dr. Lorenzo Bettoni presented a lecture about the environmental causes of CFS and FM, with an hypothesis about the role of chemicals, Electro-Magnetic Frequency (EMF) pollution and physical/mental stress triggering these illnesses.
Dr. Giacomo Rao, who works for the Italian National Insurance of Workers (INAIL is the public institute that gives compensation and pension to workers injured at the workplace), talked about the legal aspects of the recognition of these illnesses as a disability. He showed that there are several impact life factors to consider and that in Italy there are now many MCS disability certificates, even if it is always very difficult to convince the commissions about the severity of this illness. He added that the final judgment depends only on the good will of the commissioners to study a new issue.
In the second session, entitled “New Paradigms of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine,” Martin L. Pall, professor emeritus of biochemistry and basic medical sciences at Washington State University, US, presented his theory about the biochemical vicious cycle ON/ONOO-, induced by the combination of high NOS activity and Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) depletion, and how it is able to explain not only MCS, CFS and FM, but also other emerging neuro-degenerative illnesses such Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He commented that the De Luca-Genovesi study about oxidative stress represents a full confirmation of his theory.
Dr. Peter Ohnsorge, president of the European Academy for Environmental Medicine (EUROPAEM), has already applied Pall’s theory to his clinical approach in order to reduce NMDA in the cerebral metabolism. He proceeds in treating inflammation first by supplementing enzymes, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Then he offers a chelation therapy when possible, and also hemapheresis (Membrane Differential Filtration), gut therapy and detoxification. He also uses sauna therapy since the heat helps to increase BH4 and to oppose the vicious NO/ONOO- cycle.
Recently, Dr. Ohnsorge was commissioned by the German Ministry of Health and Social Affairs a controlled randomized study about the efficacy of therapies in MCS patients with the double aim of detoxification of lipophilic toxins and of improving the complaints. He found out that using a complex therapeutic regime usually leads the patients to recover slowly, but consequently.
The MCS people in the audience asked him several questions, for example about the bad secondary effects of supplementation of glutathione (GSH) and about the tests of compatibility of drugs and dental materials. He explained that supplementation has to be given always with very low doses at the beginning in order to avoid violent breaks in the de-toxification mechanisms. Moreover, he suggested to use the Lymphocite Transformation Test (LTT) to find out late reactions to drugs, metals, plastics and environmental toxins, while the basophil degranulation test is suggested when there is the suspect of inflammation induced by metals, like in the case of titanium implants.
Also in the second session, Dr. Ernesto Burgio, Coordinator of the Scientific Committee of ISDE Italia (Doctors for the Environment), gave a lecture about the epigenetic damages caused by environmental toxins and EMFs. The epigenome represents the interface between the information from the environment and the genome and, even in the absence of chromosomal or gene mutations, there still can be a change in the expression of the gene (DNA Methylation) because of an epigenomic injury. “With a few exceptions, cellular differentiation almost never involves a change in the DNA sequence itself,” he said. Since the environment changed too quickly in the latest decades, the capacity of adaptation of the (epi) genome is not enough to compensate it. Thus, a toxic exposure of the parents, in the womb or during the early childhood can induce to a chronic disabling illness later in life. New studies are exploring how a lead exposure as infants can be associated to Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-like symptoms years later or how the mother’s exposure to high levels of folic acid, vitamin B12 or to cigarette smoke can induce epigenetic changes that can repress gene transcription and, then, induce phenotypes of asthma (i.e. allergic airway inflammation) in the offspring. These findings could lead to the conclusion that our society is on the edge of a “disevolution.”
In the third session, entitled “Heavy Metals Toxicity, Dr. Raimondo Pische, president of the International Academy of Bio-Dentistry (AIOB), talked about the risks associated with the exposure to metals in dental amalgams. In particular, he presented a video of an amalgam filling showing how mercury vapors are easily released by the amalgam. He underlined the fact that dentists are the first ones at risk when they fill and remove amalgam fillings and that dental mercury represents the main source of exposure to mercury vapors in non occupational environments. This is no longer acceptable since mercury is the most toxic element in nature after the radioactive elements.
Dr. Antonello Maria Pasciuto, Italian member of the European Academy for Environmental Medicine (EUROPAEM), talked about the LTT-MELISA, the Lymphocite Transformation Test for the proof of late allergy to metals (type IV). This kind of allergy was observed in patients with MCS, CFS, Multiple sclerosis or MS, FM, ALS and autoimmune diseases and it usually improves, as well as the symptoms, after the safe removal of dental metals.
Dr. Gianpaolo Guzzi of the Italian Organization for the Research on Metals and Biocompatibility (AIRMEB) talked about the side effects of chelation therapies. His group studied hundreds of patients with amalgam toxic load and they reviewed the effects of EDTA, DMPS, DMSA and Gluthatione. EDTA seems to redistribute metals without really getting rid of them, while DMPS seems more effective on treating elemental mercury, but with severe side effects in some cases. DMSA works to detoxify from methylmercury and it can also get rid of elemental mercury stocked in the kidneys. Recently Dr. Guzzi’s research group is testing the efficacy of Gluthatione in metal detoxification since there aren’t studies about it.
In the last session, “EMF and Health,” Dr. Fiorenzo Marinelli, researcher of the Institute of Molecular Genetics (IGM) in Bologna, talked about wireless technologies such as mobile phones, Wi-Fi and Wi-Max. He pointed out the fact that thermal effects are only a part of the biological effects of Electro-Magnetic Fields, but still these are the only ones considered by international safety standard limits. There also are other effects induced by the signal information itself. This explains why, even though UMTS has usually a lower intensity of the signal compared to GSM, it uses a wider band of frequencies, then involving a greater risk of damage in the DNA, as the recent European Reflex study showed. His research group has recently studied the effects of radars and Wi-Fi and the preliminary findings show that both these kind of EMFs promote cell proliferation (2010).
Since scientific literature clearly demonstrates that EMF in our everyday life can induce DNA breakage, genetic disregulation as well as chromosomal breakage, increase of free radicals, alteration of neurotransmitters, memory loss, hypersensitivity-allergy, aging and possibly cancer, Dr. Marinelli supports the reduction of the safety limit of exposure to 0,6 V/m, as requested by the International Commission for the Electromagnetic Safety (ICEMS) since 2002.
Finally, Olle Johansson, associate professor at the Experimental Dermatology Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, and professor at the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, who also serves as a member of the famous Bioinitiative Working Group, presented a lecture about Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, which is fully recognized as a functional impairment in Sweden. He explained not only the bioeffects of EMF on EHS people, but also the social problem of disability in our modern societies.
“Disability is everywhere and it can happen to anyone: I myself have a disability when I am in Italy because I can not speak Italian,” Johansson commented. He reminded those in attendance that all modern democracies signed international equal rights United Nations treaties, but still leave these principles unrealized when it comes to environmental disability.
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