One of my favourite American cities, it was a pleasure to return to San Diego for the first time in 10 years. Attending ACAM’s Spring conference, the flashbacks made their appearance.
The Westin Hotel Gaslamp, the site of the 4 day medical conference, is nicely placed, with access to the downtown core and restaurants, and not far from Seaport Village and Petco Park. Saturday morning I awakened to bullhorns, drums, marchers and chanters – a protest was in full swing at the hotel entrance by 7:00 am. I’m thinking: “I haven’t even delivered my presentation yet and already there’s dismay and opposition!” (Seems there were a collection of disgruntled hotel workers exercising their right to protest lack of benefits, not a lecture on identifying toxic metals in children.)
As I shared at the beginning of my lecture, alluding to the aforementioned flashbacks, I recalled that in 1989 I visited San Diego for 1 month as a 4th year medical student. I signed up for an elective in Preventative Cardiology at UCSD La Jolla. At that time, the research being conducted linked menopause and increased risk of heart disease in women to cholesterol elevations that can occur at menopause http://bit.ly/7j1c3I. The intervention was to initiate Hormone Replacement Therapy and monitor cholesterol levels. I was young and green – and more interested in the beach, visiting my sister and the San Diego area than the idea of giving hormones to women to change lipid blood markers. The hypothesis wasn’t proven – HRT didn’t lower the women’s cholesterol effectively and that aspect of the program’s research died.
Fast forward 10 years to 1999 – my first ACAM conference, where my passion for learning true prevention and addressing underlying cause continued to be fed, having trained then in chelation therapy. Now I was attending training sessions that particularly held my interest! The studies published in the latter part of the last decade, as The Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) was being conducted, further piqued my interest in understanding lead’s role in various health conditions. And this is where today’s post comes full circle.
Looking at lead’s biokinetics in the human body, it became apparent through my research that menopause is a time when lead mobilizes from bone storage in a woman, with increasing cholesterol (and uric acid) I suspect acting as compensatory defense mechanisms. The body is attempting to regulate and protect itself in the female at this time of transition and oxidative stress, which can also elevate blood pressure. The increased risk of postmenopausal women toward heart disease might be attributable to lead (or cadmium), not hormone deficiency – and the intervention that I propose needs to be examined is lead removal, such as through chelation therapy, or using antioxidants and other nutrients to manage its negative effects. Hopefully TACT will provide some answers about the clinical effects of chelation therapy in women, and later studies might unravel the mechanism.
“Looking back” is an opportunity for historical reflection and learning. Seeing the interconnections is part of the fun.