All toxic metals contribute to a more rapid aging of tissues, and increased risk for heart disease and cancer. A common mechanism for all these toxins is depletion of antioxidant protection as to create free-radical damage. Glutathione, the key cell-membrane antioxidant, as well as other antioxidants (including vitamin E and lipoic acid) are depleted by oxidative stress from toxic metals, leaving cells more vulnerable to membrane damage and chronic disease.
Diseases such as autoimmune conditions, kidney disease, memory defects, muscle weakness, and thyroid disorders all can have a heavy metal trigger. Much of this damage is going unnoticed by most doctors, mainly because the focus of academic medicine has been on toxic effects of acute large exposures to metals (such as industrial accidents) and not on the subtle lifelong accumulation that most people experience.
Recent studies have also shown a significant connection between toxic metals (especially lead and mercury) and Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. If there is an elevated body burden of these toxins, the brains’ response is to increase amyloid production to reduce the inflammation and damage these metals create – the consequence of more amyloid is dementia. This vicious cycle can be stopped by reducing the body burden through chelation and other means of clearing the toxins.
There are many toxic metals (including lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury) that contribute to multiple health problems and they persist almost indefinitely in the environment. As an example, lead levels in polar ice in Greenland have been linked to pollution from Greek and Roman civilizations two thousand years ago!
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