The Toxic Generation!
Studies now show that environmental pollutants, such as engine fumes, can damage our genes for generations to come. Even the toxic air your mother breathed may affect your health today.
It’s called epigenetics, and it’s all about the changes in our genes that we inherit from our parents. But not the benign kind that give our eyes a different colour or nose a different shape. We’re talking about the genetic “switches” that turn diseases such as cancer, asthma, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s on or off. And the toxins we breathe may be toying with those very switches.
Chemicals have been in our environment for many generations. Some make us sick straight away. But others go about their destruction in a far more insidious way, by affecting the coding of our genes. This means that they can change the way our genes express themselves in the body, but without causing actual mutations. These epigenetic changes make us more vulnerable to certain diseases, and it’s a vulnerability that we pass along to our children decades later.
Asthma From The Air
A 2009 study of babies in traffic-polluted areas of New York City supports the facts of epigenetics.1 The study found that these infants may be at higher risk of developing asthma, not only because of the fumes they themselves breathe, but also thanks to genetic vulnerabilities acquired when they were still in the womb.
While studying these babies, evidence came to light of a change in a particular gene, associated with pre-birth exposure to a toxin called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. This chemical is created as a byproduct of carbon-containing fuels, common to heavy-traffic areas. The study found that a mother’s exposure to this toxin could “reprogramme” her unborn baby’s genes and lead to airway inflammation or asthma during childhood. 2 Since epigenetic re-programming happens as a result of our genes interacting with our immediate world, perhaps it is time for us to take not only our own health, but also the health of the environment into consideration. If not for our sake, then for the sake of our children. The toxic generation
Resveratrol (100-200mg daily)
Vitamin C (1,000mg daily)
Green tea extract (300mg daily)
- Harper A. University of Cincinatti press release. Research suggests pollutionrelated asthma may start in the womb. Public Library of Sciences. Feb. 16, 2009
- Burton A. CHILDREN’S HEALTH: Methylation Links Prenatal PAH Exposure to Asthma. Environ Health Perspect. 2009 May; 117(5): A195.