New Desktop Reference Guide Highlights Adverse Health Effects of Chemicals for Physicians and Their Patients

MU researcher releases book on chemical pollutants for use in integrative medicine
Curators Professor of Biological Sciences Fred Vom Saal

Vom Saal released Integrative Environmental Medicine, a comprehensive book outlining practical resources and tools, such as websites and smartphone apps, to help health care practitioners promote healthier choices for themselves and their patients.

Jeff Sossamon
News Source: 
MU News Bureau
Departments: 
Biological Sciences

COLUMBIA, Mo. – More than 87,000 chemicals are available commercially in the U.S., including analogues of bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that is used in consumer products. Frederick vom Saal, a University of Missouri endocrinologist and researcher, has studied BPA and other chemicals and their effects on humans and animals for more than 20 years. Now, vom Saal has released Integrative Environmental Medicine, a comprehensive book outlining practical resources and tools, such as websites and smartphone apps, to help health care practitioners promote healthier choices for themselves and their patients.

“The number and quantity of chemicals used in consumer products has increased exponentially since World War II,” said vom Saal, Curators Professor of Biological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. “While these chemicals are used in seemingly benign products, including water bottles, food containers, thermal cash register receipts, fragrances, and personal-care products, they also run the risk of causing chronic health problems. Type II diabetes, thyroid disease, autoimmune diseases such as asthma and allergies, autism, ADHD and several cancers all have been linked to environmental chemical pollutants.”

The book examines the history of the rapid increase in environmental chemical pollution and how these chemicals are affecting human health. It presents up-to-date research and information on the ways physicians and their patients can reduce exposure and health risks—some of which are due to fetal exposures before birth.

“The human fetus is very fragile and can be harmed by very small amounts of chemicals,” vom Saal said. “For example, fetal exposure to certain chemicals may put individuals on the path to metabolic disorders that are linked to obesity, heart attacks and diabetes. We intended for this book to be a desktop resource for clinicians who utilize an evidence-based ‘integrative medicine,’ approach to patient care, which involves focusing on the whole person when treating their patients to achieve optimal health.”

Topics in the book include sources of contaminants in the home and ways to reduce those contaminants; chemical water pollution; contaminants in food and food additives, health hazards of disinfection chemicals; the interaction of drugs and environmental chemicals, pesticides and neurodegenerative disorders, designing healthier products for the future, improving regulations and appropriate methods for testing chemicals for health effects. The final chapter of the book includes proactive approaches that physicians and families can use to reduce environmental exposures to reduce disease and improve the quality of life.

Vom Saal is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a recipient of the Heinz Foundation award in environmental science, and has more than 220 publications with over 24,000 citations.

Integrative Environmental Medicine, published in 2017 by Oxford University Press, is part of the Weil Integrative Medicine Library. Aly Cohen, founder and director of Integrative Rheumatology Associates in Monroe Township, New Jersey, is co-editor of the book. Andrew Weil is the series editor.

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