I have a cousin with multiple sclerosis (MS), so I’m always on the lookout for research on this topic. Unfortunately, many of the risk factors for MS can’t be controlled. Which is why it’s especially important to know about the ones we can control.
Like this new study linking chemical exposure to a significant increase in risk for MS. Especially if you smoke and carry a genetic risk. More on that in a moment.
First, though, I must admit that while this study is alarming, it’s not exactly surprising. Industrial and common solvents and chemicals put your health at risk. To me, that’s an undisputed fact.
And exposure to these toxins is at an all-time high.
For example, over 700 chemicals are typically found in a newborn baby’s umbilical cord. And as we get older, the chemical burden on our bodies only increases.
In fact, as I’ve reported before, we’re exposed to more than 500 toxins every single day!
If that’s not a public health crisis, I don’t know what is…
So this latest study is just one more example of how this toxic onslaught is impacting us on a very real, and very personal level. Let’s take a closer look at the details…
Research indicates that the cause of MS involves specific genetic factors located within the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex. This complex system of genes influences our immune systems. And certain mutations in these HLA gene variations can increase your risk for developing MS.
Environmental risk factors also influence MS risk. These include vitamin D status, sun exposure, adolescent obesity, smoking, as well as smoke exposure. And if you’ve ever contracted the Epstein-Barr virus infection (which causes mononucleosis) you’re also at an increased risk.
In this new study, it appears that exposure to organic solvents is also a risk factor for developing MS (as well as a variety of other autoimmune diseases).
As I mentioned earlier, this 15 study meta-analysis found that occupational organic solvent exposure can raise your risk of MS by a whopping 50 percent. And if your exposure to those toxins increases, so does your risk of developing MS.
Organic solvents are widely used in many industries, including paint and varnishing, dry cleaning, adhesives, and cosmetics.
If that wasn’t bad enough, this risk may be even greater in people who carry the HLA gene variations that predispose them to developing MS.
The needle in the smokestack
While the researchers still don’t know the exactly why this increased risk occurs, evidence indicates that the chemicals negative influence on the immune system plays a major role.
And recent animal studies seem to support this theory. (You know how I feel about animal studies. But they tell us a lot about how bodies react to chemicals.) These studies have shown that organic solvents negatively affect immune cell function, such as:
- Changes in DNA methylation — which acts to repress gene transcription — in lymphocytes (or white blood cells)
- Altered T-cell populations, which play a central role in cell-mediated immunity
- Altered aberrant cytokine secretion — the release of cell-signaling proteins, which influence the behavior of other cells
Unfortunately, since we’re exposed to so many toxins and chemicals every day, it’s hard to pinpoint which ones are causing the most harm. And on top of that, it’s difficult to tell which individual solvents are the most dangerous since they’re commonly mixed together.
But the situation isn’t as hopeless as it sounds…
Sure, we might not have a say in what’s pumped into our atmosphere or what we’re exposed to in our everyday lives. But we can control our exposure to toxins and chemicals in our own homes.
Be as careful as you can when choosing which types of chemicals and cleaning supplies to use in your home, car, and office.
And be especially careful with any products you put in and on your body.
I recommend opting for green or organic cleaning and personal care products, made from all-natural ingredients. You can also do a simple Google search to see how to make your own.
To see a list of the safest cleaning products on the market, simply click here.
And if you or a loved one has MS, there actionable steps you can take to reduce flare-ups. Simply revisit the February 2017 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“News Brief: The simple nutrient that can help soothe wintertime MS flare-ups”). Subscribers have access to my entire archive. Click here to learn more, or sign up today.