April is Autism Awareness Month and scientists are still struggling to figure out the cause of this perplexing disorder, but new studies are indicating what may be the cause.
Clinical Epigenetics, a peer reviewed journal, has released a new study claiming that the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) could be linked to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).
Clinical Epigenetics released the study following another study done by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which documented a startling rise in cases of ASDs in children under the age of 8.
“To better address the explosion of autism, it’s critical we consider how unhealthy diets interfere with the body’s ability to eliminate toxic chemicals, and ultimately our risk for developing long-term health problems like autism.” said Dr. David Wallinga, a Clinical Epigenetics study co-author and physician at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
The main findings of the Clinical Epigentics study are regarding the negative effects of HFCS consumption on levels of beneficial minerals like calcium and zinc in the body.
A lack of zinc can interfere with the body’s ability to clear toxic heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. These heavy metals are known neurotoxins that can stay in the body for years and cause brain damage, tremors, and cancer.
A deficiency of calcium impairs our ability to expel lead and organophosphates. Organophosphates are harmful pesticides widely known by the EPA and independent scientists for being particularly harmful to a young, developing brain.
According to the CDC report, a staggering 1 in 88 children in North America are diagnosed with ASDs. This represents an alarming increase of 78% between 2002 and 2008. It was also found that ASDs are five times more prevalent in boys than in girls. The reason for this gender bias is unknown.
The only thing for certain is that more children are being diagnosed with ASDs than ever before and there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight. All signs point toward the main causes of this condition being in our environment and the food we eat.
HFCS has become so ubiquitous it is in almost everything we eat. It can be found in everything from your can of Coke to your bowl of cereal. This chemical has also been linked to obesity, which in turn leads to a whole host of other conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes. If it really can be a cause of autism, it is little wonder why we are seeing such an enormous rise in cases of ASD.
In order to stem the rising epidemic of autism disorders, it’s important for researchers to continue studying dietary causes and drawing correlations between them. Autism is a mysterious condition and there is still much to learn.
It may be that our chemically-laden, toxic lifestyle is starting to show its true effects on the population. Perhaps the cure for autism is as simple as going back to a more organic way of life and imposing tougher regulations on heavy metals and pesticides.
“Upending the federal government’s approach to regulating toxic chemicals and putting tough emissions standards in place at power plants are two good places to start,” said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook.
According to a Stanford University School of Medicine study in 2011, ASDs are 62% dependant on environmental factors and only 38% dependant on genetic factors. This was contrary to a previous study which stated that ASDs were only 10% dependant on non-genetic factors.
The Stanford study was the largest of its kind with 192 pairs of twins selected in the California area. This was superior to the other study since the sample size was much larger, and the subjects came from a more diverse ethnic background. This is further convincing evidence that the cause of autism is more related to the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe rather than what combination of nucleotides comprise our DNA helixes.
Better living through chemistry may have some virtue, but it is becoming more evident that our synthetic society is starting to feel the impacts of living in such unnatural conditions. In the future we will, hopefully, revert to more natural foods and cleaner technologies. If we keep going the way we are ASDs will continue to rise.