Aly Cohen, MD, founder of The Smart Human, presents at the 2018 One Health One Planet Symposium


Aly Cohen, M.D., F.A.C.R., FABoIM, an integrative medical professional and founder of The Smart Human, closed the symposium with advice on how to avoid and strengthen our bodies in the face of everyday chemical exposures.

“In terms of the chemical numbers, we have over 90,000 [synthetic] compounds that are commercially available in this country. Just a handful have been tested for reproductive or neurodevelopmental toxicity,” Dr. Cohen said, “and only five chemicals have ever been banned since the passing of the Toxic Substance Control Act, which was in 1976.”

While humans have been around for about 2.5 million years, they have only been exposed to synthetic chemicals for the last 200, Dr. Cohen said, questioning the rapid rise of noncommunicable diseases, including obesity, cancers, neurodevelopmental issues and endocrine-related conditions.

“These epidemiologic changes have occurred at such a rapid rate that they cannot be explained by changes in random genetic mutations alone,” Dr. Cohen said.

Dr. Cohen, who is an autoimmune disease specialist and trained for two years at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, said that while humans can’t always avoid chemical exposure, certain nutrients can help detoxify the body.

Recent studies have shown cruciferous vegetables, including leafy greens, have high levels of vitamins C, K and A as well as phytochemicals, antioxidants, and sulfur-containing compounds that have detoxifying properties, Dr. Cohen said.

“Being nutrient sufficient, it turns out, helps humans to be better equipped to handle the toxin exposures that happen,” she said. “There was a study done to show that green leafy vegetables, which have folate, have been shown to offset the damaging effects, the methylation changes that bisphenol A can affect during pregnancy.”

In addition to using nutrition as a weapon against chemical exposure, Dr. Cohen also discussed avoidance of harmful compounds in plastics and personal care products.

Displaying a slide showing a photo of a Tupperware party, Dr. Cohen urged the audience to avoid heating food in plastic containers and to avoid containers with the #3 plastic resin code on the bottom to avoid phthalate and vinyl contamination. Avoiding older hand-me-down plastic toys and vinyl products are good measures, she said, as well as switching to glass and stainless steel containers.

Furthermore, though the adult woman uses 12 personal care products per day — 17 for teen girls — there are no government regulations on ingredients in these products, Dr. Cohen stressed. She cited a study that detected lead in 75% of tested lipsticks. Phthalates have also been detected in perfumes; the compound is used to hold the scent longer.

Dr. Cohen also discussed using the precautionary principle as an approach to avoid chemical exposure. “We want to think about what we do and the possibility of harm,” she said. “And even if there’s no formal evidence regarding the safety of a chemical or a product, if it seems reasonable, we need to avoid it as a precaution.”


Health Impacts: Chemicals of Concern in the Environment

The 2018 One Health One Planet conference united thought leaders across disciplines to discuss Chemicals of Concern in the Environment, from routes of exposure and potential impacts to actions that the public can take to minimize risk.

The One Health One Planet contributors present video, audio, written summaries and more to take you inside this important gathering and invite you to join the conversation on these vital issues. Watch the overview symposium video below…

The One Health One Planet conference was structured in three sessions, each with its own set of 3 – 5 presentations.


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