Sunday, February 25, 2007

Genetic Factors in Chemical Sensitivity

A new German study published in Environmental Health, (Volume 6:6), posits that a gene variation of endogenous metabolizing enzymes may be responsible for some environmental sensitivities and reactions. The study of 800 randomly selected volunteers utilized a modified questionnaire to elicit reports of reactivity---or the lack thereof---to various chemicals ubiquitous in the environment. The authors state clearly in their conclusion of this controlled study that chemically sensitive individuals are found to be more frequent carriers of genetic mutations GSTM1, GSTT1 and NAT2. The chemicals effected by these mutations are responsible for the metabolism (and inactivation) of noxious chemicals---including some fragrances---that are seen to cause reactive symptoms of individuals identifying as having Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or Environmental Illness (EI).

This study adds credence to the claims by those in the MCS and EI communities that there are quantifiable and qualifiable causes for environmental sensitivities which, if reproduced in subsequent studies, may eventually lead to improved diagnostic and treatment options. For these reasons, many of us have petitioned the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control, the Centers for Environmental Health, and the World Health Organization to finally accept MCS and EI as true physical diseases worthy of study, medical documentation, and insurance coverage. One of my most recent posts shares my letter to the director of the AMA, my request now further supported by the results of this well-timed and welcome study.

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