Multiple Sclerosis Is Linked to Environmental Contaminants Such as Pesticides & Mercury

Epidemiologic studies suggest that environmental factors may be part of the yet unknown causation of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The predominant theory today is that Multiple Sclerosis results from attacks by an individual’s immune system on the nervous system and it is therefore usually categorized as an autoimmune disease.

However, several case-control studies have shown a history of elevated exposure to organic solvents among cases.

While some studies dispute it, there is preliminary evidence that exposure to organic solvents, insecticides, and X-rays may cause or aggravate MS. This may explain why clusters of multiple sclerosis cases occasionally occur in certain geographical areas or even in work sites

In the mid 1990s, researchers in Sweden evaluated 13 studies investigating the connection between solvent exposure and autoimmune disease. Organic solvents include chemicals such as toluene, paint thinner, and acetone, the latter of which is commonly found in nail polish remover. Ten of those studies indicated a significant relationship between organic solvent exposure and MS. All of the analyses suggested that exposure to solvents increases a person’s relative risk of developing MS.

In another study scientists analyzed the occupational health records of more than 57,000 workers in Norway, covering a 16-year period. They concluded that workers, such as painters, who are routinely exposed to organic solvents, had twice the risk of developing MS than those who were not occupationally exposed. These results were compatible with the hypothesis that organic solvents are a possible risk factor for MS.

Pesticides can cause brain damage and trigger conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, according to scientists.

A landmark study claims that chemicals routinely used by farmers in the US and around the world can result in neurological diseases.

These controversial findings have been challenged by the agro-chemical industry, which insists exposure levels for humans are well within safety limits.

Researchers at the University of North Dakota say preliminary research shows a link between pesticide exposure and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Researchers say they’ve also identified a surprisingly efficient way pesticides may get into the human body.

Researchers at the University of North Dakota are quick to point out these are preliminary results — covering one year of a planned four-year study.

But Dr. Patrick Carr a well-known research agronomist at the Dickinson Research Extension Center says there’s clear evidence pesticide exposure at relatively low doses affect brain cells.

“Some areas of the brain displayed what I would call physical changes — in other words, a loss of neurons in particular regions of the brain,” says Carr. “In other regions of the brain you wouldn’t notice a change in the number of cells present there, but now the cells that are present there are expressing chemicals in different amounts, compared to normal rats.”

As an example, Carr found cells responsible for production of a substance called myelin were damaged or destroyed. Myelin is a substance made up of fats and proteins that encloses nerves. It helps transmit signals along the nerves. Loss of myelin causes nerve damage in neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Researchers studied six common pesticides. Carr says some rats were given a single large dose, while others were injected with small doses over a nine-month period.

The following testimony which speaks for itself can be found at

“I have worked with textile chemicals for the past 18 years. We worked with very lax laboratory procedures ie: no exhaust hoods. I spent many of those years burning polyester and polypropylene foams and inhaling perchlorethylene and 1,1,1, trichloroethylene on a daily basis. Also I worked with optical brighteners and formaldehyde resins which were in constant contact with my skin. The past year I have been seeing a neurologist with MS symptoms. I was wondering if this could be a result of working with these chemicals? I have mentioned it to my doctor but he doesn’t seem concerned. Should I ask to consult with a toxicologist?

Danger of mercury

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that can affect the brain, heart and immune system, especially for children and developing fetuses. Chronic exposure to mercury can cause problems such as learning disabilities and developmental delays.

Mercury is a cumulative heavy metal poison that can damage the central nervous system and other organs or organ systems such as the liver or gastrointestinal tract.

Multiple Sclerosis is a nervous system disorder that results in myelin destruction. Myelin is a protective covering surrounding the axons of certain nerves composed of lipids and protein present in small quantities of the brain. Mercury poisoning has been proven to cause myelin destruction. During pregnancy women with known mercury poisoning had almost no


Mercury is an extremely toxic metal, second only to cadmium as the most poisonous on earth. This toxin has an affinity for the human nervous system, with deleterious neurological effects extremely well documented in medical history.

In fact, the term, “mad as a hatter” comes from the psychosis associated with 19th century English Hatters who used Hg to stiffen cloth. Mercury has also been called “the great mimicker”, because toxicity can effect so many bodily systems, giving birth to multiple and diverse pathology symptoms. A partial explanation for this is that its damage is incurred by interfering with metabolic processes at the cellular level. Mercury’s multiple physiological capabilities include:

The danger of mercury in dental fillings

Over 200 million people in the United States have composite amalgams consisting of silver and mercury (mostly mercury) fillings in their teeth.

Since MS patients have been found to have high mercury levels in their cerebrospinal fluid, and since mercury is a known poison that affects the nervous system, dental fillings are suspect

Some researchers now believe that MS is a direct result of neurotoxins from the blood entering the central nervous system through the brain and some researchers claim they have found mercury levels more than seven times higher than normal in the spinal fluid of people with MS. This research lays the blame on the high amounts of mercury used in routine dental fillings and indeed some countries have now already banned the use of mercury fillings.

Click here to learn more on the connection between mercury in dental fillings and MS.

Danger of mercury in fish

A major concern with fish consumption is mercury (one of the most poisonous metals in existence) that is mainly found in farmed fish and fish coming from contaminated open waters. Other common contaminants in fish are PCBs, dioxins, pesticides and herbicides.

Salt water fish absorb mercury from ocean water like a sponge. Therefore, if you have a mercury problem, you must stop consuming these foods completely. This includes shrimp, scallops, lobster, tuna, salmon and all things that live in the ocean. Fresh water fish is fine (e.g. fresh water trout). Farm raised salt water fish is no good since the farms are actually netted off areas of the ocean.

The larger the fish, the likelier they are to have high levels of this toxin. Older, larger fish tend to have more mercury in them because they have eaten the smaller fish which also contain mercury.  Swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish seem to be the worst offenders. Salmon, cod, sole, and canned tuna have much better (low) mercury levels.

The National Resources Defense Council points out, for instance, that predatory fish such as large tuna, swordfish, shark and mackerel can have mercury concentrations in their bodies that are 10,000 times higher than those of their surrounding environment!

It’s because of this bioaccumulation that about 40 percent of all U.S. exposure to mercury comes from eating contaminated tuna. And roughly 75 percent of all human exposure to mercury in general comes from eating fish.

A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at mercury levels in 1,400 men from eight countries, including Britain. The authors believe that mercury counters the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids in fish, which are beneficial in MS.

There are high mercury concentrations in certain fish which swim in contaminated waters. These fish are swordfish, shark, and king mackerel. Tuna, marlin and red snapper have ‘intermediate’ concentrations.

Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and can also be released into the air through industrial pollution.

Mercury falls from the air and can accumulate in streams and oceans and is turned into methyl mercury in the water.

Fish absorb the methyl mercury as they feed in these waters and so it builds up in them.

Fish caught from local rivers, streams and lakes in many states have been found to contain high levels of mercury and other harmful contaminants

It builds up more in some types of fish and shellfish than others, depending on what the fish eat, which is why the levels vary.

In general, wild caught freshwater fish from the Eastern/Southern US are high in mercury, as are pelagic (open ocean free-roaming) salt water predator species (listed below), and the content is higher the older and larger the fish are. There is more Mercury in Atlantic than Pacific in general as well.

Eating smaller fish, like anchovies and sardines, is also an option, as their small size makes them far less likely to be contaminated.

An important point to remember if you’re not eating fish is that your body still has a requirement for omega-3 fats. Fortunately, you can easily meet your omega-3 needs by taking a high-quality krill oil or fish oil supplement, instead of risking your health by eating contaminated fish.



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