Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Organophosphates and Your Brain

Awhile back, I began investigating the benefits of eating organic foods, specifically foods grown pesticide free. I've learned that it's easy to begin this kind of a lifestyle change when I'm fired up and enthusiastic, but as time goes by it becomes more difficult to justify the inconvenience and cost of finding those foods. It's so easy to just grab veggies and fruits sold in all the major grocery stores. At times like these, I need a major attitude adjustment - a whap upside the head to remind me of the importance of eating foods that are as pure and wholesome as possible. One that can be found in the results of a study like this: 
In a representative sample of US children, those with higher levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in their urine were more likely to have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than children with lower levels, indicating less exposure to these compounds, researchers report in the June issue of Pediatrics, published online May 17, 2010.
"Each 10-fold increase in urinary concentration of organophosphate metabolites was associated with a 55% to 72% increase in the odds of ADHD," first study author Maryse F. Bouchard, PhD, of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, told Medscape Psychiatry
I wondered what the heck an organophosphate pesticide is. Apparently, even though I'm not familiar with them, they are everywhere. 
Approximately 40 organophosphate pesticides are registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the investigators note in their report. In 2001, 73 million pounds of organophosphates were used in both agricultural and residential settings. Diet is a major source of pesticide exposure for children. According to a 2008 US report, detectable concentrations of the organophosphate malathion were found in 28% of frozen blueberry samples, 25% of strawberry samples, and 19% of celery samples.
How do these pesticides facilitate ADHD?
"It is very well established that organophosphates disrupt brain neurochemical activity. Indeed, their efficacy as pesticides result from their toxic effect on the central nervous system of insects," Dr. Bouchard noted."In particular, organophosphates disrupt the activity of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter also implicated in ADHD. In addition, certain organophosphates affect growth factors, several neurotransmitter systems, and second messenger systems. These changes in brain activity could well result in ADHD-like symptoms," she said.
Hm. Is this a reputable study? 
Michael L. Goldstein, MD, who was not involved in the study, said the study results are "very interesting findings from a very well-done study from a good database." The report, he said, "certainly got my attention when I read it; I was really impressed by it. I think it is a groundbreaking study, added Dr. Goldstein, a specialist in child neurology with Western Neurological Associates in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a faculty member of the American Academy of Neurology.
It appears that this indeed is a study completed by a credible group of scientists using appropriate study guidelines. Of course, I'm not a child, even though I do have this problematic bratty inner child. But I worry about the effects of these pesticides on all of our children and my future grandchildren. And I am concerned that any compound that disrupts normal brain neurochemical activity can be problematic, regardless of age.
You can read the report in it's entirety on Medscape, here


annie said...

It's scary imagining all the additives,preservatives and pesticides a human can ingest/inhale in a given day. Do we wonder why there is such a huge movement towards everything organic, whether it be food or products we use on our bodies.Let's hope the government reads these studies and decides to act upon them. I think governments are the biggest culprists as they let foods and products be approved without testing them, or they just don't care enough to do somethng about it.

annie said...

P.S. Julia,

Do you know anything about LEVIDO? Is it found in sjogren's or in other autoimmune diseases? There is not much info.I have been browsing about this, as it seems I might have this wonderful new symptom. Thanks.

Laura said...

It's scary what-all is in our food. And of course the school lunches to put this...not organic.

(If they're like they were when I was in school, I'm not sure they're food.)

Anonymous said...

Organophosphates are also found in many (most) flea dips and/or shampoos.
We had a cat that was sensitive to it, and he died from it. I was very
sad--but he also habeen miserable with skin sores. So any of us who use
those products need to be very careful, with both the pets and ourselves!