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Dear Dr. Meinig: In your article you stated that smog wasn’t the only cause of emphysema. Would you please tell me some other reasons? I would really like to know. I have never smoked. Although my husband did and I remember what you said about others smoking around you. Thank you for all your kindnesses. Sincerely, B. P.
Dear B. P.: Chronic cadmium poisoning is one of the key causes of emphysema. Its presence in tobacco is thought to be just one of smoking’s drawbacks.
Cadmium is present in all foods and beverages due to its presence in the soil. Fertilizers contribute most to soil contamination. Industrial pollution of toxic metals including cadmium is a problem not only in smog but in fallout on our agricultural farm land waters. Homes having soft, acid waters pull cadmium from galvanized pipes and solder connections.
The modern average man has 0.7 parts per million of cadmium in his body while wild animals contain 0.1 to 0.3 parts per million. Our personal environment must account for the difference in the amount of cadmium we harbor. Tobacco smoke is a prime source of this element.
What a person eats and his particular body chemistry contributes to whether or not he has emphysema. This chronic affliction is more prevalent or worsened when the system is too alkaline and when blood chlorides and oxygen are low. Wheat germ and kelp are good sources of sodium and this element is necessary to maintain sufficient chlorides in the body. Eating meat and fish and 100% whole grains produces acidity and therefore its presence decreases alkalinity. Fruit and its juices along with milk, fats and oils are alkalinity producers so reduction of these foods can be helpful in reducing alkalinity. Manipulation of alkalinity or acidity of the body by varying the amounts of acid-alkaline foods is necessary. Success can be hampered in those who have too little stomach acid enzyme. In such people proper digestion and utilization of the organic acids in fruits and vegetables will not take place. On the other hand if poor liver function is present an individual will not assimilate fats and oils.
You can see that some cases of emphysema might readily be corrected while others could be a long and protracted problem due to the variations of the person’s chemistry as each of these individuality differences would need to be solved.
All these factors notwithstanding considerable improvement can be accomplished with an exercise program. Recently the work of Harry Boss, M.D., head of the Pulmonary Division of the Peter Bent Bingham Hospital in Boston, came to my attention. He has shown in studies over many years that daily exercise on a stationary bicycle enabled people who couldn’t walk fifty feet, after a reasonable period on the bike, were able to enjoy vigorous hobbies, gardening or travel. Before any such exercise program medical evaluation is essential as is a slow gradual start.
On re-reading my above words I’m somewhat afraid of leaving you feeling the whole solution is just too complex. While the problems often appear inextricable they should not deter one from seeking solutions. We all tend to think problems have one cause and one cure. It throws most of us if a second factor is involved. Most diseases actually have multiple causativity. Don’t be discouraged by the tangled maze…start solving the problems one by one. That is what success is all about.