Your biological age can provide a good clue about your longevity, far more so than your chronological age. Your biological age refers to the state of your cells — they can be younger or older than your calendar age, which means you’re aging slower or faster than expected.
Environmental exposures have a lot to do with biological or cellular aging and, according to a December 2019 study1,2 published in The Journals of Gerontology, lead, mercury and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are the three toxins shown to have the greatest impact on your life span.
While glyphosate was not included in this study, my guess is it would probably be a top contender as well, considering it disrupts normal body functions, especially your gut, and appears to enhance the damaging effects of other toxins.
According to Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, glyphosate worsens virtually all modern diseases which, of course, will shorten your life. That said, lead, mercury and PFOS have repeatedly been identified as significant contributors to chronic ill health and are certainly among the most pervasive and concerning toxins out there.
The Dangers of Lead Are Well-Recognized
As one might expect, the December 2019 study3 found that “biological age was elevated relative to actual age in people who had chronic disease,” while those participating in a wellness program showed signs of slowed aging.
“This observation suggests that biological aging is modifiable,” the researchers note, and that lowering your biological aging rate is “a sign of healthy aging.” Strong predictors of biological age were measures of metabolic health, inflammation and toxic accumulation, with lead, mercury and PFOS being the most influential predictors.
In “The Heroes Who Sunk Lead,” I review the history of lead and its impact on organ function, especially your brain. Importantly, there is no known safe exposure to lead, which often affects young children and lower socioeconomic groups the hardest.
Epidemiological studies have revealed African-American children have a higher incidence of lead poisoning, potentially from a slightly different way of metabolizing the heavy metal.
Lead and calcium are chemically very similar, making lead a competitor at the cellular level and disrupting many different bodily systems.4 In your neurological system, it may disrupt neurons that use calcium to transmit information.5
The presence of lead will cause some neurons to fire more and decrease the signals in others. This may alter neurological development in the brains of children who have absorbed lead from their environment.
The Public Health Heroes Who Fought to Lower Lead Exposure
One of the leaders in the fight against lead was Dr. Herbert Needleman, a pediatrician who saw firsthand the damage lead does to children. After years of treating children and observing the long-term effects of exposure, he maintained that a slow buildup of lead in the system could trigger symptoms even in the absence of overt poisoning.
As lead-based paint and gasoline were the biggest contributors to lead poisoning in children, Needleman and public health expert and colleague Dr. Philip Landrigan began lobbying to remove lead from these products. The industry fought back using paid experts to pick apart and publicly lambast the research. The industry also went after Needleman personally, trying to discredit him and destroy his career.
Another prominent player was geochemist Clair Patterson, Ph.D., who fought the oil companies to have lead removed from gasoline. Even when it was added to gas in the 1920s it was known to cause neurological damage. Still, the process was pursued as it enabled the oil companies to net greater profits.
Again, the industry brought to bear its influence to discredit the science and the man in an effort to maintain profits at the cost of human health. But despite the overwhelming odds, Patterson ultimately succeeded and was instrumental in bringing forth the 1975 U.S. mandated option of unleaded gas at the pumps.
In 1986, Patterson’s persistence triggered the removal of lead from all gasoline in the U.S. altogether. As a result, Americans’ blood lead levels dropped nearly 80% by the late 1990s. In my view, Patterson is one of the greatest unrecognized public health heroes of the 20th century.