Overtreatment of Diabetes Now Causing Environmental Destruction

Diabetes Treatment

Story at-a-glance -

  • Waterways in the US contain residues of a multitude of drugs —including diabetes drugs, birth control pills, antidepressants, painkillers, and many other chemical compounds
  • The type 2 diabetes drug metformin is the most prevalent drug in Lake Michigan, and it may be altering the hormonal systems of fish in the lake
  • In California, severe water contamination has led residents in rural farming communities to increase their consumption of soda, which has resulted in increased rates of obesity and diabetes among the poor

By Dr. Mercola

The fact that waterways in the United States contain residues of a multitude of drugs —including diabetes drugs, birth control pills, antidepressants, painkillers, and many other chemical compounds has been known for years.

Unfortunately, little has been done to remedy the situation. As a result, we’re now faced not only with continued overtreatment of humans, but we’re also facing environmental destruction courtesy of what could be referred to as “drug pollution.”

Our agricultural system is also contributing to water pollution that, in some areas, has led to an increase in diabetes and other health problems, which are then treated with—you guessed it—drugs. Those drugs end up in water treatment plants, rivers, and lakes, and the vicious cycle just continues ad nauseum...

Metformin Threatens Aquatic Life

According to recent research,1 the type 2 diabetes drug metformin is the most prevalent drug in Lake Michigan, and it may be altering the hormonal systems of fish in the lake. As reported by the Detroit Free Press:2

“[F]athead minnows were exposed to metformin at the levels found in Lake Michigan for four weeks. Male minnows showed disruption of their endocrine systems, producing a chemical messenger usually associated with females' egg production...”

Basically, the drug has a feminizing effect on male fish. Other “gender-bending” chemicals released into the environment, such as BPA and phthalates, have similar effects, causing male animals and humans to take on feminine characteristics.

One of the ironies in this situation is that type 2 diabetes can easily be treated and reversed without drugs. In fact, drug treatment can do far more harm than good. And now we’re seeing that overtreatment of diabetes with drugs is also causing environmental harm...

The study in question was led by Rebecca Klaper,3 a professor and research scientist at the University of Wisconsin's School of Freshwater Sciences. In 2013, she participated in a study4 in which they discovered that a number of drugs and chemical compounds persist in the water of Lake Michigan.

Besides metformin, progesterone (birth control pills), androstenedione (hormone treatment to increase testosterone), triclosan, and antibiotics were also found in the lake. According to the featured article:

“The drugs are not completely broken down by people's bodies after ingestion, are excreted and then are not fully removed by wastewater treatment processes. The flushing of old pharmaceuticals down the toilet contributes to the problem.

‘It's enough to raise an alarm bell that this might be something that causes changes in reproduction of fish,’ [Klaper] said. It's something that definitely warrants further study.

...Of all the drugs researchers tested for in Lake Michigan, metformin is found at the highest concentrations, at up to 40 parts per billion. More than 60 million metformin prescriptions were dispensed in the U.S. in 2013, according to drug market research firm IMS Health...”

Lack of Clean Drinking Water in California Leads to Increase in Diabetes

In related news, severe water contamination has led residents in rural farming communities in California to increase their consumption of soda and sugary beverages.

This in turn has led to increased rates of obesity and diabetes among the poor, according to a report5 by the University of California Davis Center for Poverty Research. Vice News6 writes:

"The prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes in California is higher among low-income minority populations than white affluent populations. A combination of environmental factors, including a lack of access to healthy foods and nutrition education — and safe drinking water — likely contribute to these disparities...”

Data obtained from the Community Water Center shows that the San Joaquin Valley has the highest rate of drinking water contamination in California. The area also has the greatest number of water contamination violations. Studies have found that as many as one-quarter of all of all residents in the Central Valley have no access to safe drinking water!

When taking water from the tap, residents are being exposed to a number of hazardous contaminations—including nitrates, arsenic, coliform bacteria, pesticides, disinfectant byproducts, and uranium. Most of this contamination is caused by runoff from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Water is essential for life and good health, and to think that entire communities in America have no access to clean drinking water is really quite surprising. What’s worse, the answer for these people—most of whom are poor—is to buy the cheapest drinks available, namely sodas and other sweetened drinks, which further accelerates their disease likelihood.

As noted by the researchers, ensuring access to clean drinking water is really critical in order to address rising obesity and diabetes rates among the poor. The fact that water treatment plants are not set up to filter out drugs is also solid justification for investing in a high-quality water filtration system for your home, if you can afford it.

Drug Treatment Is Not the Answer for Type 2 Diabetes

Mounting research7,8,9 suggests that many diabetics, especially the elderly, are not receiving any real benefit from their diabetic drug treatments. As reported by MedicineNet.com:10

“Researchers found that nearly two-thirds of older diabetics who are in poor health have been placed on a diabetes management regimen that strictly controls their blood sugar...

But these patients are achieving that goal through the use of medications that place them at greater risk of hypoglycemia, a reaction to overly low blood sugar that can cause abnormal heart rhythms, and dizziness or loss of consciousness...

Further, tight diabetes control did not appear to benefit the patients... The percentage of seniors with diabetes in poor health did not change in more than a decade, even though many had undergone years of aggressive blood sugar treatment.”

It’s unfortunate, but as Dr. Ron Rosedale wrote 10 years ago, in 2005, doctors cause diabetics to D.I.E from their flawed prescriptions, which stem from a basic lack of insight into the root cause of this disease. D.I.E., here, is a clever acronym for “Doctor Induced Exacerbation,” which includes premature death.

This is no surprise as diabetic drugs (oral hypoglycemic) and insulin do nothing to address the cause of type 2 diabetes. Research11 published in 2013 revealed that treating type 2 diabetes with insulin more than doubled patients’ risk of all-cause mortality. It also leads to:

Twice as many myocardial infarctions 1.4 time more strokes2.1 time more neuropathy1.4 times more cancer
1.7 time more major adverse cardiac events3.5 times more renal complications1.2 times more eye complications2.2 times more deaths

Conventional medicine has type 2 diabetes pegged as a problem with blood sugar. This is incorrect, and it’s precisely why the medical community’s approach to its treatment is not getting anywhere. The reality is that diabetes is a disease rooted in insulin resistance12 and perhaps more importantly, a malfunction of leptin signaling, caused by chronically elevated insulin and leptin levels.

Treating type 2 diabetes with insulin is actually one of the worst things you can do, and recent research13 has come to the same conclusions that Dr. Rosedale warned us about nearly a decade ago, which is that treating type 2 diabetes with insulin can actually lead to the development of irreversible type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes. 

Root Causes of Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes involves loss of insulin and leptin sensitivity. This makes it easily preventable and nearly 100 percent reversible without drugs. One of the driving forces behind type 2 diabetes is excessive dietary fructose, which has adverse effects on all of metabolic hormones—including two key players: insulin and leptin

There is no question in my mind that, for most people, regularly consuming more than 25 grams of fructose per day will dramatically increase your risk of insulin/leptin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and chronic diseases—including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more. It’s important to realize that even though fructose is relatively "low glycemic" on the front end, it actually reduces the receptor’s affinity for insulin, leading to chronic insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar on the back end.

Another major cause of type 2 diabetes is the consumption of the vast amount of glucose derived from the high-carbohydrate diet that has been recommended for the last half century by conventional medical and media recommendations. All carbohydrates that are not fiber will be quickly metabolized into sugar, and it makes little sense to eat large amounts of sugar to keep your blood sugar lower. It’s important to realize that type 2 diabetes is NOT the result of insufficient insulin production. It’s actually the result of too much insulin being produced on a chronic basis, primarily from eating the high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet.

This overwhelms and “deafens” your insulin receptors, hence the term “insulin resistance.” It’s the chronically elevated insulin levels that make your body “resistant” to understanding the signals sent by the insulin. This also occurs with leptin. This is why taking insulin will actually worsen your insulin and leptin resistance over time. You do not need more insulin. You need to restore the sensitivity of your insulin and leptin receptors by keeping their levels low.

Metformin, which is contaminating Lake Michigan and other waterways, is not insulin but is one of the oldest oral hypoglycemic pills. It’s typically used as a first-line treatment for diabetes, but it’s also frequently inappropriately used in conjunction with insulin. Metformin is a drug that is supposed to make your body's tissues more sensitive to insulin but the reality is that it does nothing to address the cause of insulin resistance. It certainly is not a metformin deficiency. Previous research suggests you may be able to mimic the effects of metformin simply by taking two tablespoons of vinegar prior to your meals, without any of the adverse side effects.

If you’re still having trouble understanding why taking insulin is a terrible choice in type 2 diabetes consider this: when your blood sugar becomes elevated, insulin is released to direct the extra energy (sugar) into storage. A small amount is stored as a starch called glycogen, but the majority is stored as fat. Therefore, insulin’s primary role is notto lower your blood sugar, but rather to store this extra energy as fat for future needs when food may not be available. The fact that insulin lowers your blood sugar is merely a "side effect" of this energy storage process. Taking more insulin merely makes you fatter!

Your body's cells become desensitized to insulin, leptin, and other hormones by being overexposed to these hormones—be it by eating food that causes excessive secretion, or by injection. Diabetes treatments that concentrate merely on lowering blood sugar by adding insulin therefore tend to worsen rather than improve the actual cause of metabolic miscommunication.

So what’s the answer? Diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle changes can virtually eliminate your risk of diabetes and reverse diabetes in nearly all cases. For detailed guidelines on how to do that, please see my in-depth report, How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes.

Environmental Factors That Aggravate Diabetes

Besides a high-sugar, low-fat diet and lack of exercise, other environmental factors can also raise your risk of insulin resistance and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes. For example, recent research shows that chronic sitting, stress, and shift work14 can aggravate metabolic dysfunction and lead to overweight and diabetes.

In the case of nightshift workers, recent research15 found that those who had worked the night shift for one to two years had a 17 percent higher risk for diabetes, compared to those who never worked nights. After the three-year mark, that risk rose to 23 percent. After working the graveyard shift for 10 years, the risk for diabetes jumped to 42 percent.

Lack of sleep is, overall, a fairly significant factor, whether the cause is due to stress, shift work, or some other factor. In one 2012 study,16 participants who got only 4.5 hours of sleep per night, four nights in a row, reduced their insulin sensitivity by 16 percent. Moreover, their fat cells’ insulin sensitivity was 30 percent lower, rivaling levels seen in those with diabetes or obesity. Additionally, sleep deprivation tends to lead to food cravings, particularly for sweet and starchy foods that promote insulin resistance.  

Lack of sunlight is another overlooked component that can influence your weight, and hence, your risk of diabetes. As noted in a recent Time Magazine17 article:

“If you work in a windowless cubicle and you arrive at work before the sun comes up, you could be missing out on a powerful, all-natural weapon against obesity. A 2014 Northwestern University study18 found that exposure to the sun was associated with BMI, and that getting bright light in the morning hours seemed to have a slimming effect. Light helps to regulate circadian rhythms, which in turn regulate energy balance and expenditure, say the study authors. They suggest getting 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight between 8 a.m. and noon each day to avoid unwanted weight gain—yet another argument for walking to work or taking that mid-morning break!”

Cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins can also provoke diabetes through a few different mechanisms, including raising your insulin and blood sugar levels, and robbing your body of valuable nutrients that can impact your blood sugar levels. Two nutrients in particular, vitamin D and CoQ10, are both needed to maintain ideal blood glucose levels. Bringing us full-circle to where we started—with the discussion about water contamination—statins are also found in waterways and drinking water around the world.19

How Pure Is Your Drinking Water?

As noted earlier, water treatment facilities are not designed to filter out pharmaceutical compounds, so to prevent chronic low level exposure, you’d be wise to install a water filtration system in your home. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report20 on pharmaceuticals in drinking water, published in 2011:

“Studies on conventional drinking-water treatment processes have shown that coagulation is largely ineffective in removing pharmaceuticals. Free chlorine is able to remove up to approximately 50 percent of the pharmaceuticals investigated, whereas chloramines have lower removal efficiency. Compounds that showed high removal by free chlorine but low removal by chloramines include antibiotics, such as sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, and erythromycin.

Advanced water treatment processes, such as ozonation, advanced oxidation, activated carbon, and membranes (e.g. nanofiltration, reverse osmosis), are able to achieve higher removal rates (above 99 percent) for targeted pharmaceutical compounds in various studies in the published literature.”

Besides purification, I also believe it’s critical to drink living water. Last year, I interviewed Dr. Gerald Pollack about his book, The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor. This fourth phase of water is referred to as “structured water” and is the type of water found in all of your cells. This water has many health properties. Water from a deep spring is one excellent source of structured water. The deeper, the better; as structured water is created under pressure.

There's a great website called FindaSpring.com where you can find a natural spring in your area. But you can also promote structured water through vortexing. I personally drink vortexed water nearly exclusively as I became a big fan of Viktor Schauberger, who did much pioneering work on vortexing about a century ago. Dr. Pollack found that by creating a vortex in a glass of water, you’re putting more energy into it, thereby increasing the structure of the water. According to Dr. Pollack, virtually ANY energy put into the water seems to create or build structured water.

Help Pass ARTICLE 31: Clean Water Is a 'Fundamental Human Right'

Last but not least, there’s an ongoing petition proposing the addition of one more article to the 30-article Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Please consider signing the petition for this important measure that is only going to get more and more critical as time goes on.

In 1948, the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were ratified by all the nations of the world. These 30 articles guaranteed a broad sweep of human rights across many human endeavors, from life to liberty to freedom of thought. Now, 60 years later, recognizing that over a billion people across the planet lack access to clean and potable water and that millions die each year as a result, it is time to add one more article to this historic declaration. Article 31, the Right to Water, states:

“Everyone has the right to clean accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access of quality of water due to individual economic circumstance.”