METAL TOXICITY : HEALTH DANGERS OF NICKEL
Tests can be performed to determine the presence of nickel in the body but the resulting adverse health effects cannot be predicted. Minimizing your exposure risks is a solid course of action. Most people can simply avoid jewellery that contains nickel but if you work in an affected industry, you may want to seriously consider your potential health hazards.
Nickel is a metal, commonly used to make coins, magnets, jewellery, stainless steel, electronics, and components of industrial machines. Most people are familiar with the attractive mirror-finish that can be achieved by nickel plating. However, despite the beautiful appearance, nickel exposure, especially in industrial and occupational settings, can present significant health hazards.
EFFECTS OF NICKEL EXPOSURE
Nickel is one of many carcinogenic metals known to be an environmental and occupational pollutant. The New York University School of Medicine warns that chronic exposure has been connected with increased risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological deficits, developmental deficits in childhood and high blood pressure.
Nickel exposure introduces free radicals which lead to oxidative damage and may also affect the kidneys and liver. In 2012, Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture administered liver function tests to 25 nickel-plating workers. Results showed they overwhelmingly suffered from compromised liver function.
Researchers at Dominican University of California have linked nickel exposure to breast cancer. How? Well, nickel is believed to bind to estrogen receptors and mimic the actions of estrogen. It is well established that lifetime estrogen exposure is a breast cancer risk factor and unfortunately, even this “imposter estrogen” contributes to the risk.
Additionally, nickel has been identified as a toxin that severely damages reproductive health and can lead to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and nervous system defects.
WHY IS NICKEL TOXIC?
Having toxic metals in your body is like having sugar in your gas tank. It’s simply not built to process the material and severe mechanical problems are going to result. No, they don’t just “pass right through.” According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, metals are not inert, they have biological activity.
Nickel toxicity, specifically, was evaluated by researchers at Michigan State University who found it presented a multi-tiered toxic attack. First, nickel causes essential metal imbalances. It severely disrupts enzyme action and regulation. Finally, it causes and contributes to a high amount of oxidative stress.