Heavy Metals Testing. What Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You.
Heavy metals like Mercury, Arsenic and lead are linked to toxic poisoning in large exposures and are associated with a myriad of diseases and development disorders in epidemiological studies due to low dose long term exposure. It is a fact that they only contribute negative effects in the human body and that they are found ubiquitously in the human body. What is debatable is exactly how their deleterious effects will manifest in an adult exposed to low doses over long periods of time. Short of a high dose poisoning, a doctor simply cannot say, “Your health problems are caused by heavy metals” without taking a huge speculative leap. But they do…
Sadly, I hear exactly that line being echoed by patients in my practice when they bring heavy metals results in from other offices. Their labs show levels peaking into the red zones of their results page indicating elevated levels. Often they are in a state of panic and have been told they are “toxic” and need to spend huge sums of money to detoxify or chelate. These patients have typically been tested using a provoking chelating agent which causes increased excretion of metals and therefore elevate levels on testing. If a patient asks why use a chelator, they may be told that it is the only way to assess levels of metals in tissues. This is partly true for an element like lead; the majority is trapped within boney tissue and won’t be reflected in standard testing. The other part of the truth is that most of the heavy metals released on these tests are coming from the body’s filter, the kidney, so they cannot reflect total body burden any better than non-provoked tests.
The patient sees only their elevated value in the results and fears the worst believing without question the explanation of their doctor. If the patient were to look at the small print below their results they would see the legally mandated printed truth right there: “Reference intervals and corresponding graphs are representative of a healthy population under non-provoked conditions”. This caveat is rarely discussed or explained to the patient sadly. Often the patient will eagerly spend a substantial sum to rid themselves of the toxic burden by undergoing chelation, but if they were to be repeatedly tested they would find that their metals levels do not predictably fall with treatment, they often rise. This is because the levels of metal circulating is dynamic and like mining, one does not always strike a vein. The truth is that their will always be heavy metals in our system even with chelation or detoxification and the best we can hope to do is peel off a layer at a time with such treatment.
At Vital HealthCare, Dr. Griffith uses a different standard. Instead of the apples to oranges comparison of normal reference values to provoked tests, Dr. Griffith relies on the NHANES database base created by the Center for Disease Control which has compiled levels of over 10,000 people as a representation of the general population. Using this database and a non-provoke / non-chelated test result, Dr. Griffith can tell you where your levels fall, from the lowest percentiles to the highest. NHANES was created to give us insight into disease association with factors such as heavy metals levels to guide correlations and create sensible practice guidelines. Once a patient sees their levels without the exaggerated effect of provoking agents, they can make an informed choice about how to proceed.
If you have had a misleading heavy metals test using a provoking agent or if you are interested in learning about your heavy metals levels, please come see us!
At the very least, ask your doctor what the small print means before undergoing unnecessary and expensive treatment.
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