Surprising Places Where Toxic Heavy Metals Live

  • August 1, 2022

The phrase “heavy metals toxicity” is gaining attention in the mainstream, health-focused media. Wellness influencers are toting heavy metals detoxes and low-toxicity diets to get ahead of this health concern. Smart patients will come to you to learn more and discover the underlying reason for their illness –  and likely inquire about heavy metals and where they live in the body. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are Heavy Metals?

Heavy metals are naturally occurring trace elements found in the Earth’s crust and reflected on the periodic table of elements. Not all heavy metals are considered bad. Heavy metals can be divided into three testing categories: nutritional metals, beneficial metals and toxic metals.

A few of the most concerning are arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury. Heavy metals have a high atomic weight and are denser than water, according to the “Heavy Metal Toxicity and the Environment” chapter from the Experientia Supplementum book series.

Heavy metals exposure occurs naturally via soil erosion, metal corrosion, atmospheric deposition, volcanic eruptions, and more. They are also commonly used in the agricultural, domestic, industrial, medical, mining, smelting, and technology fields. This widespread natural presence of heavy metals — and modern utility — means heavy metal exposure is possible at work, play, and home. 

When some heavy metals enter the body, they become known as systemic toxicants (and are identified as carcinogens) because they often cause damage to an entire system or group of organs.

Where Are Toxic Heavy Metals Found Inside the Body?

Each day we inhale, consume and absorb invisible elements in our environment and are perfectly healthy. When it comes to heavy metals, concerns about heavy metals toxicity arise based on the amount of heavy metals, type of exposure, the chemical composition of the heavy metals, and the health status of the person exposed.

Heavy metals can be found in all cells of the body, from internal organs to blood and skin, per the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology. Here are a few noteworthy locations, causes, and effects.

  • Brain and spinal cord: When mercury enters the body from vapor exposure, it can trigger cognitive impairment and damage to the hippocampus in the brain.
  • Dermal system: If chromium enters the body via drinking contaminated water or food, or through skin contact from soil and groundwater, it can bioaccumulate and trigger dermal, renal, neurological, and gastrointestinal issues. Chromium is also known for causing cancer of the lungs, larynx, bladder, kidneys, testicles, bones, and thyroid.
  • Digestive system: Arsenic, ingested from contaminated food and water, travels to the small intestine causing damage. Arsenic also affects the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, muscles, and neural tissue.
  • Lungs: Cadmium is often introduced to the body through occupational exposure from industrial manufacturing dust and cigarette smoking. This may lead to lung injuries and renal tubular dysfunction.
  • Nervous system: Mercury-contaminated fish has been associated with neurological damage including ataxia, muscle weakness, numbness in the limbs, speech issues, and difficulties swallowing or chewing.
  • Respiratory and digestive system: Lead exposure to the respiratory system or digestive tract is known to trigger cardiovascular disorders, inflammatory responses, urinary issues, and neurological issues.

This list is not exhaustive. Since heavy metals can embed themselves in any cell of the body, and migrate from one bodily system to the next, the effects of these elements are evolving, increasing, and varied. However, it’s good to keep tabs on the most common heavy metal poisoning symptoms including oxidative stress, disruption in growth, enzyme inactivation, and antioxidant defense.

Top clinicians are keeping tabs on the growing concerns and methods of heavy metals exposure via ongoing research studies and medical education.

Heavy Metals Testing Solutions

If your patient is presenting with heavy metal poisoning symptoms, it’s best to order a panel to determine which heavy metals are affecting their health. This will help guide your treatment options and care planning. 

Consider the following testing options:

At Access Medical Labs, our goal is to provide precision heavy metals testing via blood mineral analysis or urine sampling with next-day results so you can create personalized treatment plans for your patients within days, not weeks. Efficient, timely care matters. Learn more about our physician testing options here.

More About Dr. Ghen

Mitchell Ghen, DO, Ph.D

Mitchell Ghen, DO, Ph.D. has 33 years of experience in Anti-Aging and holistic and integrative medicine. Along with his work in nutritional medicine, “Dr. Mitch” has a remarkable amount of experience as an expert clinician and researcher in the field of stem cell transplantation.

In addition to being a physician, Dr. Mitch holds a Master’s Degree in Biomechanical Trauma and has a Ph.D. in nutrition and psychoneuroimmunology. He is an international lecturer on oral and IV nutrition and stem cell transplantation and is recognized as one of the premier teachers at conferences and seminars on integrative medicine. His private practice is in Boca Raton, Florida.

Dr. Mitch’s vast academic knowledge, coupled with his entertaining delivery, makes him one of the most sought after personalities in his field. Currently, he is a medical director for several Natural Medicine companies and a consultant for physicians worldwide, teaching them how to implement integrative medicine into their practices.

He is the co-author of four textbooks including the “Advance Guide to Longevity Medicine,” “The Ghen and Raine’s Guide to Compounding Pharmaceuticals,” “The Anti-Aging Physicians’ Handbook for Compounding Pharmaceuticals,” and “The Essentials and Science of IV Parenteral Medicine.”