03/24/2019 / By Tracey Watson
When you hear the word formaldehyde, what do you think of? Does it conjure up images of gloomy mortuaries and dead bodies? If so, you’re not alone – most of us associate this chemical with the preservation of tissue in a laboratory environment.
You may, therefore, not be aware that formaldehyde is actually pervasive in our environment. Used in everything from plywood to fabrics, glue and insulation materials, formaldehyde can be found all around us – including in the air we breathe.
Why is this a problem? Well, exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, glaucoma, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other serious health conditions. And a study by researchers from Aston University in the United Kingdom, published in the journal Aging and Disease, found that formaldehyde exposure could be a contributing cause in the development of depression, diabetes and dementia. The study focused on a natural solution to the problem: supplementation with the powerful antioxidant, carnosine.
Link between formaldehyde and age-related conditions
Several studies have confirmed a link between formaldehyde exposure and the dangerous trio of depression, diabetes and dementia. Natural Health 365 explains the reason for this link:
Researchers are now finding that exposure to formaldehyde causes a harmful cross-linking of the body’s proteins – the same process that occurs in the presence of high blood sugar. (Also known as glycation, cross-linking from high blood sugar can damage cells, and cause portions of the body’s tissues to become non-functional).
Intriguingly, the team found that formaldehyde decreases the availability of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine – which influences learning, memory and mood – thereby yielding a possible clue to formaldehyde’s role in triggering age-related memory decline.
Researchers have found that formaldehyde is a contributing factor in several age-related conditions because of this dangerous cross-linking process.
Formaldehyde and cancer
Formaldehyde exposure has also been strongly linked to the development of several cancers. In fact, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen (cancer-causer).
As reported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a study conducted by the NCI, which examined the effects of occupational formaldehyde exposure on 25,619 workers, confirmed an “increased risk of death due to leukemia, particularly myeloid leukemia, among workers exposed to formaldehyde.” Follow-up studies with the same participants, a decade later, confirmed the initial results.
A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also confirmed a link between formaldehyde exposure and death from leukemia.
Formaldehyde in vaccines
As noted at the outset, formaldehyde is pervasive in our environment and to a large extent exposure is unavoidable. Nonetheless, there are some areas in which we can either choose to accept or avoid such exposure.
Vaccines present one such choice.
Formaldehyde is used in very small quantities in vaccines to inactivate living pathogens. While one vaccine only contains about 100 mcg of formaldehyde, children receive a large number of vaccinations over a short period of time. In fact, kids who receive all the CDC-mandates vaccines are injected with a whopping 1,795 mcg of formaldehyde.
While each family needs to decide for themselves whether the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks, it is always good to be in possession of all the relevant information when making such decisions.
The study cited at the outset confirmed that carnosine – a protein building block produced naturally by the body – suppresses the dangerous cross-linking caused by formaldehyde. Previous studies have found that it also slows down the aging process and dramatically extends lifespan. Natural Health 365 reported:
In addition, carnosine’s anti-glycation properties help to prevent LDL cholesterol from forming arterial plaque, thereby protecting against atherosclerosis and diabetic damage.
Other carnosine-derived boons to cardiovascular health include its capacity to lower blood pressure in obese individuals, and its ability to protect against reperfusion injury – damage caused by the rebounding of oxygen-rich blood into tissues after a heart attack.
For good measure, carnosine has been shown in cell studies to delay senescence – a cellular consequence of aging that causes tissue and organ failure.
While carnosine is found naturally in red meat, this amino acid breaks down rapidly in the body, making reaping its benefits a little tricky. For this reason, supplementation with a high-quality, organic supplement is advisable.