Aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, and other heavy metals abound in the human environment, where they are found in pesticides, cooking utensils, paint, tin cans, solder, cigarettes, dental fillings, contaminated fish, some cosmetics and antacids, and industrial products and by-products. Battery makers, gas station attendants, agricultural workers, printers, jewelers, and dentists, for example, face increased heavy-metal exposure risks.
Physiologic, psychologic, and pathologic stressors may interfere with metabolic homeostasis and cause excess toxic burdens. Numerous disease processes and stressors can result in dysfunction of normally functioning, sufficient pathways. Oxidative, physiologic, and psychologic stressors can contribute to such impairments. Such stressors can result in direct increases in free-radical production as a result of altered biochemical pathways shunted to cope with such stressors. As a consequence of these altered biochemical pathways, over the course of time, disease processes can take hold within the body. These disease processes can also have devastating consequences, such as those that arise from diabetes mellitus, including glycosylation of proteins and accumulation of sorbitol. Advanced glycosylation endproducts (AGEs) can be ingested in the diet generally in the form of foods undergoing prolonged heating, particularly fats, meat and meat-substitutes, and broiled foods.2 Studies show that serum AGE cross-linking is significantly increased after ingestion of an AGE-containing meal.3 Animal studies also indicate that high-fat diets are correlated with obesity, tissue damage, and increased levels of AGEs.4 Physiological reactions involving AGEs have been implicated in the pathology of numerous diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease; they place a significant burden on detoxification pathways and contribute to the total toxic load of an individual.
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