Activated charcoal and leukemia | SunStar

Activated charcoal and leukemia

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Activated charcoal and leukemia

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

LEAD poisoning may be more common than expected. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified some common sources of lead poisoning in our households.

Lead can be found in paints, gasoline and consumer products such as candies (recently those from Mexico), toys (through their paints and plastic materials), toy jewelry (toy bracelets), folk medicinal preparations (East Indian, Indian, Middle Eastern, West Asian and Hispanic origins), and artificial turfs (usually lead dusts). Worse, lead can be taken in through the air (fumes), food, water, dust and even the soil.

Lead poisoning can cause multiple organ assaults, primarily the nervous, hematopoietic (blood cellular development), hepatic and renal systems. It can also poison the reproductive organs. Thus, it has been linked with carcinomas of the intestines (both small and large), ovary, kidney and lungs, including such malignancies as myeloma, all leukemia and all lymphomas. Friends and relatives with leukemia and lymphomas, thus, got it from lead poisoning.

Meanwhile, one of the most-studied antidotes against lead poisoning is activated charcoal. Yes, the same component of popular antimotility medications we use to treat diarrhea, such as loperamide.

Activated charcoal is prepared from wood, coconut shells or petroleum through pyrolysis (disintegration by fire) and then oxidation under steam or air at 600-900 degrees Celsius. A black and fluffy powder, it has a strong adsorbent ability. However, unlike with organisms and other poisonous substances, it has been considered a poor adsorber against most metals. And, yet, it has an established beneficial effect in improving renal dialysis outcomes.

Nevertheless, three Nigerian pharmacologists and toxicologists (Samuel Offor, Herbert Mbagwu and Orisakwe) tested its efficacy at a dose 1,000 mg per kilogram body weight on lead-poisoned rats for 28 days. The dose was given to the rats 90 minutes after receiving lead acetate solution (60 mg per kilogram body weight).

Outcomes in the untreated lead-poisoned rats showed significant elevations in serum enzymes (e.g. aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase and alanine aminotransferase), urea, bilirubin, total cholesterol, triglycerides, bad cholesterols (LDL and VLDL), total white blood cells (count), malondialdehyde, and interleukin-6; and declines in packed cell volume, hemoglobin concentration, red blood cells (count), total proteins, albumins, total glutathione, and two enzymes (superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase). Take note of these laboratory results, which can hint at potential lead poisoning.

The administration of activated charcoal decreased all elevated biomarkers while protecting the liver and kidney from damage, disputing the common presumption.

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 06, 2017.

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