“The dose makes the poison” – attributed to Paracelsus , Swiss physician and chemist from about 500 years ago. The full quote: “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.” Even water and oxygen are poisonous in too large a dose. (1)
Modern chemicals are leading to different types of health problems than the classic understanding of toxicity which considers a substance toxic at the dose that would lead to death or cancer or a visible birth defect. One of the examples provided is BPA a chemical found in plastics and now in our environment which is considered safe in the traditional sense of toxicity – it doesn’t lead to cancer or death at small amounts however it may be acting as an endocrine disrupting chemical at very small doses. (1)
BPA acts as an estrogen receptor activator – estrogen is one of the main female hormones. At what dose of birth differences will society be concerned about the health of male infants? Endocrine disruptors including BPA are associated with differences in male sexual organs at birth. (2)
Returning to a research finding mentioned in the Vaping series (part 1, 2, 3), an experimental dose labeled Acute was 20 minutes of vape exposure each day for one week, and an experimental dose labeled chronic was 20 minutes of vape exposure for 3 weeks. (part 3, ref 4:17) Compared to what might be typical for a human both of those doses are pretty low. A human might smoke a half a pack of cigarettes per day – ten cigarettes taking minimally 5-10 minutes to smoke. Other humans might smoke a pack or two or even three packs per day.
A few humans might only smoke one or two cigarettes once a week during an evening out but that is less typical than the daily half a pack smoker. There may be some health benefits however in the smoking one or two during an evening out, if the time is going to be spent in a smoke filled environment. The lungs will increase protective layers of mucous to reduce entry of toxins when there is smoke exposure. Avoiding the smoke exposure altogether would be safest however.
Chronic cannabis smokers develop lung tissue that is less typical of lung tissue that is not chronically exposed to smoke. Emphysema was not associated with cannabis smoking at a rate much different than not smoking while tobacco smoking with or without use of cannabis was associated fairly closely for macroscopic emphysema risk. (3) Coughing, asthma, bronchitis may still remain risks from chronic smoking of cannabis. Infectious risks may also occur from use of water pipes or other types of pipes that aren’t cleaned regularly. (4)
Cleanliness and moderation – both are valuable. Moderation in all things is also valuable. The dose makes the poison whether smoking tobacco or cannabis, drinking water or alcohol, watching TV or playing video games or surfing the internet, even exercise can become a health risk if done excessively or in dangerous settings. Building up physical skills gradually can make exercise safer in various settings however building up a tolerance to some drugs or activities can just leave a person needing larger amounts to achieve the same dopamine excitement.
Dopamine is the main brain neurotransmitter for feelings of reward. Most major addictive substances cause an increase in dopamine directly (cocaine) or indirectly (most of the rest of common addictive substances) . See: Impacts of Drugs on Neurotransmission, (5), (7) It certainly would take less alcohol than water to harm someone or kill and tolerance can also develop to alcohol so more is needed to feel ‘drunk.’ Cocaine tolerance can build up to a point where the dopamine receptors no longer respond to other rewarding stimuli and the person may no longer feel pleasure except with increasing amounts of cocaine/crack.
In small amounts alcohol can have medicinal effects and reduce the stress of an emotional shock or physical trauma. That medicinal amount may be as small as a third of a typical serving size of alcohol, or up to one to two alcoholic beverage servings per day, for a smaller or larger adult. (G11: Alcohol) Often though, the problem is being able to stop at one or two alcoholic beverages as author James Thurber stated eloquently:
“One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough.”
― James Thurber (died November 2, 1961)
Having an elevated stress level over time may make people more susceptible to addictive behavior. The stress response can become more likely to occur in the future when it has been chronically active in the past, as calming GABA activity is inhibited by the increased activity of dopamine receptors that occurs with stress or addictive behaviors. (12, 13, 14)
How much TV is too much TV? I heard recently on the radio that people in the U.S. spend on average 7000% more time watching TV than working on their finances – so we’re all financially stable then? Or most of us are behind on balancing the checkbook and planning for retirement? The number seems enormous, 7000%, in hours it means we are spending about 70 hours watching TV for every one hour spent looking into our financial health. See: Americans Spend 7000% more time watching TV than they do on their finances, by Brett Arends, (MarketWatch.com)
How much cellphone use is too much cellphone use? (8) That may involve more than dopamine over-stimulation. Chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields including from WiFi and TV sets may be increasing negative health symptoms beyond an addictive use of the electronic devices. Insurance company white papers have deemed the idea of 5G internet in urban areas as “High risk” with unknown health effects. (9) More than 180 scientists have appealed to the European Union to use caution regarding approving 5G installations which would need to be placed almost every block for reception rather than the current cellphone towers which are larger and can be placed at a farther distance from internet users. (10)
The effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields seems to be accumulative and infertility may result in just ten to fifteen years of exposure. Internet use throughout schools from grade school through highschool and college would be ten to fifteen years of exposure. How much infertility is too large a dose of infertility for a population to survive?
Research is limited and more is available about male infertility than effects on female fertility. Increased cellphone use (self-reported) was associated with decreased sperm count, sperm motility, viability and morphology (shape). Cell phone use was grouped into, No use, less than 2 hours per day, 2-4 hours per day, and greater than 4 hours per day. The researchers questioned the number of hours reported for use, however it has become fairly common to have your smartphone with you at all times – and that category – 24 hours per day, seven days per week was not included – and would represent living in a community with 5G installations. (page 257, 11)
Good news – meditation can help reduce the stress response (15), and while it might not help balance your checkbook, it may be a more beneficial way to increase dopamine levels than shopping or TV watching. (16)
Stay tuned for part two – moderation is too large a topic to take in one dose.
- The Dose Makes the Poison Concept, Toxicity, chemicalsafetyfacts.org, https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/dose-makes-poison-gallery/
- Sathyanarayana S, Beard L, Zhou C, Grady R. Measurement and correlates of ano-genital distance in healthy, newborn infants. Int J Androl. 2010;33(2):317–323. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2605.2009.01044.x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943951/
- Aldington S, Williams M, Nowitz M, et al. Effects of cannabis on pulmonary structure, function and symptoms [published correction appears in Thorax. 2008 Apr;63(4):385]. Thorax. 2007;62(12):1058–1063. doi:10.1136/thx.2006.077081 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2094297/
- Marijuana “bong” pseudomonas lung infection: a detrimental recreational experience. Repirology Case Reports, Vol 6, Issue 2, Feb 2018, e00293 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/rcr2.293
- Impacts of Drugs on Neurotransmission, National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugabuse.gov, https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2017/03/impacts-drugs-neurotransmission
- Brett Arends, Americans Spend 7000% more time watching TV than they do on their finances. marketwatch.com, Oct. 19, 2019 https://www.marketwatch.com/story/americans-spend-7000-more-time-watching-tv-than-they-do-on-their-finances-2019-10-18
- Yanofski J. The Dopamine Dilemma-Part II: Could Stimulants Cause Tolerance, Dependence, and Paradoxical Decompensation?. Innov Clin Neurosci. 2011;8(1):47–53. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3036556/
- De-Sola Gutiérrez J, Rodríguez de Fonseca F, Rubio G. Cell-Phone Addiction: A Review. Front Psychiatry. 2016;7:175. Published 2016 Oct 24. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00175 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5076301/
- 5G And The IOT: Scientific Overview Of Human Health Risks, Environmental Health Trust, https://ehtrust.org/key-issues/cell-phoneswireless/5g-networks-iot-scientific-overview-human-health-risks/
- EU 5G Appeal – Scientists warn of potential serious health effects of 5G. https://www.jrseco.com/european-union-5g-appeal-scientists-warn-of-potential-serious-health-effects-of-5g/
- Health Effects from Radiofrequency Eectromagnetic Fields, Report of the independent Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation, (AGNIR report, April 2012) Documents of the Health Protection Agency, https://www.ices-emfsafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/AGNIR_report_2012.pdf
- Sinha R. Chronic stress, drug use, and vulnerability to addiction. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008;1141:105–130. doi:10.1196/annals.1441.030 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732004/
- Beas BS, Wright BJ, Skirzewski M, et al. The locus coeruleus drives disinhibition in the midline thalamus via a dopaminergic mechanism. Nat Neurosci. 2018;21(7):963–973. doi:10.1038/s41593-018-0167-4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6035776/
- Van Bockstaele EJ, Reyes BA, Valentino RJ. The locus coeruleus: A key nucleus where stress and opioids intersect to mediate vulnerability to opiate abuse. Brain Res. 2010;1314:162–174. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2009.09.036 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3274960/
- Young SN. Biologic effects of mindfulness meditation: growing insights into neurobiologic aspects of the prevention of depression. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2011;36(2):75–77. doi:10.1503/jpn.110010 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3044190/
- Kjaer TW, Bertelsen C, Piccini P, et al., Increased Dopamine Tone During Meditation-Induced Change of Consciousness. Cognitive Brain Research 13(2):255-9 · May 2002 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11408344_Increased_Dopamine_Tone_During_Meditation-Induced_Change_of_Consciousness
- part 3, ref 4, Laube BL, Afshar-Mohajer N, Koehler K, et al. Acute and chronic in vivo effects of exposure to nicotine and propylene glycol from an E-cigarette on mucociliary clearance in a murine model. Inhal Toxicol. 2017;29(5):197–205. doi:10.1080/08958378.2017.1336585 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5553614/