Mold and Cancer Can Mold Cause Cancer
January 19, 2022

Indoor exposure to black mold, or any other mold, has not been linked to cancer. However, mold is linked to various other health issues.

Mold can grow anywhere where moisture is found. Mold spores fly through the air to enter homes and other structures, and as a result, we may breathe them in at times. This can aggravate allergies and asthma and induce upper respiratory symptoms when present in high quantities for a long time in our bodies.

Read on to learn more about black mold, different varieties of mold, and who are most vulnerable to them.

Types of Dangerous Mold and Their Relation to Cancer

There are several dangerous and toxic molds found in our surroundings. Two of them are regarded as extremely dangerous and related to cancer.

Black mold and cancer

Stachybotrys chartarum, often known as black mold, or Stachybotrys atra, has a reputation for being a toxic mold. Satratoxin, a form of mycotoxin produced by black mold, is a toxic chemical that can cause disease in some people, but black mold and lung cancer haven’t been linked to it yet.

Aspergillus and cancer

Molds in this category produce aflatoxins, which are toxic components that can make you feel very ill and lead to liver cancer if you ingest them too much. Rather than inhaling, this mold enters your body through digestion.

Mold can grow in a variety of places, including your home. Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Alternaria are other dangerous molds found.

Also read: MYCOTOXINS TOXICITY: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Mold Toxicity Symptoms

The adverse effects of short-term mold exposure are different for every person. If you’re allergic or sensitive to mold, you’re more likely to experience severe symptoms.

Symptoms in general include:

  • sinus and nasal congestion
  • nasal irritation
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • red eyes
  • blurry vision
  • trouble breathing
  • coughing
  • sore throat
  • sneezing
  • nosebleeds
  • asthma attacks (if you have asthma)

What Are the Risks of Mold Exposure?

Some people are completely unaffected, while others are more sensitive. If you have a mold allergy, you may experience severe symptoms such as lung inflammation.

According to the CDC, the Institute of Medicine found sufficient evidence associating indoor mold and wet indoor settings in general, with:

  • Symptoms of the upper respiratory tract in healthy adults
  • Symptoms in people suffering from asthma
  • Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis in vulnerable people

Furthermore, lung cavities can be infected with Aspergillus niger if you have emphysema, TB, or severe sarcoidosis. Invasive aspergillosis is a more serious reaction in which the infection spreads from the lungs to the brain, heart, and kidneys. This is more likely to happen in persons with a weaker immune system.

What Type of Cancer Does Mold Cause?

Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by some varieties of this mold that can make you sick and even cause liver cancer. That usually comes from eating it rather than breathing it in.

Who’s at Risk?

People with the following conditions are at the biggest risk:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • a chronic lung disease
  • cancer treatment
  • intaking strong drugs and medicines
  • organ or stem cell transplant

Also read: MOLD ON FOOD: IS MOLDY FOOD DANGEROUS?

How Do You Keep Mold Out of Buildings and Home?

Mold growth can be slowed down in your home and building by performing the following:

  • Controlling humidity levels.
  • Repair the leaking roofs, windows, and pipes as quickly as possible.
  • Thoroughly cleaning and drying after floods.
  • Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking facilities.

Call us at 843-572-1600 or make an appointment with one of our mold toxicity expert doctors now if you are seeking the best mold treatment near you. We have a team of professionals at the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine who can help you with all of your health-related issues.

Mycotoxins Toxicity: What You Need to Know
January 11, 2022

What is Mycotoxin Toxicity?

Mycotoxin toxicity is a poisoning caused by mycotoxins found in mold (fungi) that grow on food like cereals, dry fruits, and coffee beans when left exposed to air for a long time. While the signs of mycotoxin toxicity vary depending on several factors, but acute poisoning symptoms include rashes and gastrointestinal issues. Chronic symptoms are manifested through kidney disease, liver failure, depression, and even cancer.

What are Mycotoxins?

Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxic compounds by certain types of molds (fungi) found in various food articles. These molds grow under warm, damp, and humid conditions. There are different kinds of mycotoxins that pose serious health risks to humans.

Common Signs of Toxic Mold Poisoning

The risk of poisoning may vary according to age, sex, prior health status, genetic structures, as well as the dose of mycotoxins, and the duration of exposure. Different mycotoxins target different organ systems, but the most commonly affected are the liver, kidney, brain, and nervous systems.

Here are a few signs of toxic mold poisoning:

  • Depression
  • Anemia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Kidney failure

Mycotoxins Commonly Found in Food and Why They are Concerning

Among the most commonly found mycotoxins, aflatoxins are known to be the most dangerous. Found in cereals, grains, spices, and nuts, large aflatoxin doses can be fatal.

The two other common mycotoxins include:

  • Ochratoxin A, found in cereals, coffee beans, and grape juice
  • Patulin, found in rotten fruits such as apples.

Also read : Genital Herpes: Symptoms, Causes and How to Treat It

How are Mycotoxins and Aflatoxins Different?

Aflatoxins are a kind of mycotoxin. The primary difference between aflatoxin and mycotoxin is the source. The former is only produced by aspergillus species, while the latter can be produced by many types of molds. Aflatoxins are the most poisonous mycotoxins which can cause severe health issues in humans and animals, including death.

Mycotoxins and Gut Health

The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) is greatly affected by the ingestion of food contaminated by mycotoxins. Normally, the intestinal barrier in the GI tract acts as a filter against mycotoxins. However, some mycotoxins can severely affect the GI tract by altering normal intestinal functions like barrier function and nutrient absorption.

Trichothecenes, zearalenone, fumonisins, and ochratoxins are some of the impacts of mycotoxins on gut health.

Also read : Mold and Dampness: How Mold Affects Your Health

How to Minimize the Risk of Mycotoxins?

We must keep in mind that mycotoxins can grow on any food product and can penetrate deep into them. To reduce the risk of mycotoxins toxicity, you should remember the following:

  • Examine the foods for signs of molds before eating, especially the types of food that are more prone to being contaminated with mycotoxins.
  • Avoid keeping food unattended in the open air for long before consuming.
  • Make sure to buy fresh nuts and grains always.

Key Facts You Should Know About Mycotoxins

  • Only a few kinds of molds create the chemical mycotoxin.
  • While acute mycotoxin poisoning is more evident through noticeable symptoms, chronic toxicity is more common and has long-term repercussions.
  • Mycotoxin molds grow on different crops and food items like nuts, cereals, spices, dried fruits, apples, etc., under humid conditions.

If you suspect mycotoxin poisoning, do seek immediate treatment. Schedule an appointment with us at (843) 572-1600. We have a group of expert doctors specializing in mycotoxins and mold toxicity treatments who can help relieve the symptoms and prevent further health damage.

5 Key Electronic Product Design Challenges That Need to be Addressed
January 7, 2022

Household mold is more than just an eyesore, whether it’s the slippery black spots on your shower curtain, the fuzzy white patches on your basement floor, or the smooth orange film that accumulates on your kitchen drain. You may have health issues that could have been triggered by mold regardless of whether you are allergic or not. Here’s what you need to know about mold and dampness and how to protect yourself and your house.

What is Mold?

Mold is a form of fungus composed of microscopic organisms found practically everywhere. Molds perform a crucial function in nature by decomposing dead leaves, plants, and trees.

How Does Mold Grow?

Mold reproduces by producing tiny spores. They thrive in damp conditions and reproduce by dispersion through the air and water. For energy, they rely on organic matter.

What Can Mold Grow On and How Common Is Mold in Buildings?

Mold tends to grow on paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold may develop in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, cloth, and upholstery, among other things. As a result, they are highly frequent in buildings and residences.

Also read: Mold On Food: Is Moldy Food Dangerous?

How Does Mold Affect the Surfaces It Grows On?

Mold consumes the materials it grows on, causing those materials to be damaged or deteriorate. Mold may cause aesthetic damage, including discoloration, unpleasant smells, and even structural degeneration of surfaces if left unchecked.

Can You Get Fungal Pneumonia from Mold?

Aspergillus, a mold present in many indoor and outdoor habitats, is one of the most common airborne fungi. Aspergillosis, the resultant illness, frequently affects patients with severe immunodeficiency.

What Types of Mold are on Exterior Surfaces?

It’s very difficult to identify the type of mold, but some of the most common ones are;

  • Aspergillus – Found almost everywhere.
  • Penicillium – Found in vinyl, paneling, wood, painted masonry, and poured concrete foundations.
  • Cladosporium – Found on external surfaces like vinyl siding, glass surfaces, windows, many types of wood, and paneling.
  • Trichoderma – Found in untreated lumber, pinewood and boards, decaying wood, and textiles.

How does Mold Affect Your Health?

Molds create allergens (compounds capable of causing an allergic reaction), irritants, and, in certain cases, poisonous substances. Mold spores can produce allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash if inhaled or touched. Molds can also trigger asthma episodes.

Also read: OSTEOPOROSIS: SYMPTOMS, CAUSES, PREVENTION & TREATMENT

Mold Reactions: Who’s at Risk?

Allergy sufferers may be more vulnerable to mold. Fungal infections are more common in people with a weakened immune system or underlying lung disease. People with chronic respiratory illnesses may have trouble breathing when mold is present.

How Can You Keep Mold Out of Buildings and Homes?

    You can control the development of mold by following these points:

  • Regulating humidity levels;
  • Repairing leaking roofs, windows, and pipes as soon as possible;
  • After floods, thoroughly clean and dry the area;
  • Shower, laundry, and culinary spaces to be ventilated.

If you are looking for an expert on mold illnesses and mold poisoning treatment near you, call us at 843-572-1600 or schedule an appointment today. At the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, we have a team of professionals who have solutions for all your health-related problems.

Mold On Food
December 16, 2021

Food can be spoiled by mold. Moldy food has undesirable texture and taste and can even have apparent physical changes. Some of the molds are dangerous for your body as they produce harmful toxins, which can cause respiratory problems and various allergic reactions.

Mold and Candida
1 April 12, 2021

Mold is a fungus that often thrives in moisture and multiplies through lightweight spores that travel via the air. Candida is also a fungus that is found in small quantities in your mouth, intestines, and skin.

mold and asthma
March 2, 2021

Inhaling mold spores can trigger or worsen your asthmatic symptoms. Some common asthmatic symptoms triggered by mold include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

How to Remove Mold Spores From Your House And Prevent Mold Infection?
December 7, 2020

Mold is extremely common as it grows in damp places, such as roofs, windows, pipes, or any previously flooded area. If you believe your house contains mold, reach out to a professional licensed company to inspect the air quality as it is highly dangerous to remediate. However, if you happen to be exposed to mold or develop mold toxicity symptoms, contact the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine immediately to help treat any of your personal mold-related illnesses.

July 22, 2018

“We should be able to enjoy living near coastal areas without fear of mold issues. Proper assessment and care of indoor environments makes all the difference!”

Assessment Of Mold In Indoor Environments

By John H, Albrecht, Albrecht Consulting, LLC

www.albrechtenvironmental.com

So, you say you have mold? Or you suspect mold is in your house, and you do not know what caused it? Should you have it tested? If so, whom should you call?

These are all questions that may plague the average homeowner, when faced with an unknown allergen. Many clients believe it must be “that mold stuff I saw on TV or on that full page newspaper ad I saw the other day.” I hope the following helps you make more of an educated decision, when determining your particular course of action.

What are you reacting to? – First of all, are you sure it is mold that is your main concern or is it possibly another environmental trigger? Have you been tested for other allergens? A fair analogy may be changing the oil in your car because it “knocks” going up a hill, when all along it may be a timing problem, which the oil change will not fix.

Moisture – Addressing the source of the problem – Now that you know you are reacting to mold, you need to be aware that many well known websites say to address moisture as the main culprit. Think about your house, and make a note of any moisture sources that would contribute to mold growth. Examples include water leaks, which are obvious, but a majority of complaints in buildings stem from VAPOR LEAKS.

Who should I hire? Know your Inspector – A competent engineer or building inspector, who can look objectively at your building, and is there as an unbiased expert, should be hired to assess the cause and origin of moisture intrusion. Ask questions as to their licensing and the years of experience the inspector has before hiring the consultant. Once the moisture issue is properly diagnosed, a plan can be implemented for mitigation of the moisture, and possibly mold if encountered. Too many times clients will hire a tradesman to look at moisture issues or they will see an ad in the paper for a “free crawl space inspection”. If an air conditioning (HVAC) technician arrives to do an inspection of the building, what deficiencies do you think he will be most focused on?

Visual Inspection – Now that you have selected your inspector, the inspection can begin. A good inspection should begin within the structure to look for obvious signs of problems. It should proceed to the attic, then should proceed to the crawl space. If you are testing that day, don’t allow the inspector to enter or open the attic. They will bias the sampling. A good diagnostician will typically find issues with a building during the visual inspection, if there is a mold issue. If it is a vapor issue, plan on it being a more difficult assessment.

Testing – There is significant debate about what type, if any, of testing to use for indoor air quality testing. The Indoor Air Quality Association Annual Conference in 2007 cited particle counting by instrumentation as a viable means of assessing problematic areas.

For air sampling, there are several types of cassettes for capturing particles. Some cassettes use higher flow for capture of particulate, and some specialize in a lower flow for sampling. Some hygienists will like to test using agar plates, so they can identify the species of mold present. It’s all very confusing, but it goes back to picking the person you are most comfortable with and matching the level of assessment with the need for data.

Report – The report should identify the visual findings and should discuss the laboratory findings, if samples were taken. Conclusions and recommendations should be included that address the main problem, as the diagnostician sees it, and long-term solutions for repair. In some cases, the consultant will be able to estimate the cost for mold cleanup, based on their experience in the field. This can be very helpful, so ask the inspector if they have any experience with cleanup, and if so, in what capacity.

Cleanup – Finally, the Institute of Inspection Cleaning Restoration Certification (IICRC) publishes an industry standard for mold cleanup called IICRC Standard S520. This standard succinctly addresses the requirements of parties involved in the cleanup of mold. The objective is to return the site to a Condition 1, Normal Fungal Ecology. You can find this document at www.IICRC.org.

Post-cleanup Sampling – Current real estate law in South Carolina mandates disclosure of mold in real estate transactions. If you have a mold incident, you will need documentation from the independent consultant to verify to the buyer that it was handled properly. This will typically involve more testing, so be prepared to have the consultant close at hand to see the project through. It will save you money in the long run.

For additional information about mold exposure, please see the article, Household Mold: Toxin? Infection? Allergy?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mr. John Albrecht received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Citadel in 1985 and has been a Professional Engineer licensed in South Carolina (License #13896) for the last 18 years. He was an Environmental Engineer for the Department of Defense from 1987-1991, and began working in the private sector in 1991. Since 1993, Mr. Albrecht has managed his own environmental consulting firm in Charleston. Since 2000, the firm has focused solely on indoor air quality, building science, and energy efficiency issues. The firm was awarded the Emerging 10 Award for the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce in both 2003 and 2004. Mr. Albrecht holds accreditation from the American Indoor Air Quality Council as a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC).

 

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July 22, 2018

The Effects of Toxic Molds on Personality and Brain Functioning

By Nancy A. Didriksen, Ph.D., Neuropsychologist

This sobering article by a licensed and experienced Neuropsychologist is meant to emphasize the seriousness of chronic toxic mold exposure. Mold toxicity requires proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment, since it is now being shown that mold mycotoxins can cause chronic, toxic brain injury in exposed individuals.

There are many types of brain injuries. These may occur as a result of blows to the head, gunshot wounds, accidents, strokes, sports injuries, electrical and lightning injuries, migraine headaches, vascular problems, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and from normal pressure hydrocephalus. Brain injury may also occur as a result of infectious processes such a HIV infection and AIDS, herpes simplex, Lyme disease, from a variety of brain tumors, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, oxygen deprivation, carbon monoxide poisoning, metabolic and endocrine disorders such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, and toxic conditions such as exposure to excessive amounts of alcohol, solvents, heavy metals, pesticides, and street drugs.

More recently, the effects of toxigenic molds on brain functioning are being studied. There have been numerous studies performed on other types of brain injuries and relatively few studies to date on the effects of the molds which give off toxic substances called mycotoxins.

However, from the studies that have been performed and the observations that have been made of patients who have been exposed to toxigenic molds and evaluated, a pattern of deficits is being revealed. This pattern of deficits is strikingly similar to the pattern of deficits observed in individuals who have been exposed to other neurotoxic substances, such as pesticides, solvents, and heavy metals, thereby suggesting that these molds have neurotoxic properties.

Dr. Marshall Mandell reported brain reactions, including an inability to concentrate and confusion, during testing with various mold extracts in 1976. Other studies performed, beginning in 2001, have reported chronic, toxic brain injury apparently related to exposure to toxigenic fungi. Personality changes have also been observed.

Patients being tested undergo a variety of neuropsychological and personality tests to determine exactly what areas of cognitive functioning are being affected. Deficits are found primarily on measures of higher cortical functioning (executive functions) including the ability to regulate one’s behavior, plan, solve problems, reason in an abstract manner, and initiate actions.

A decline in general intellectual functioning as measured by IQ tests has also been observed. Deficits are generally on measures of information processing speed, attention and concentration, and perceptual organization. Verbal abilities are not as adversely affected.

Deficits in memory functioning are also observed, particularly in incidental memory. Incidental memory is like the memory requirements of everyday life when one is simply expected to remember information without being specifically told to recall the information. Memory for visual information is slightly more impaired than verbal memory. Overall, scores on a formal measure of memory fall close to the average for the population. However, what is important to remember is that the average educational level for the group of patients being observed is very close to a four-year college degree. Scores for college level individuals are usually expected to be in the high-average to superior ranges on neuropsychological tests.

Overall, the majority of patients score in a mildly impaired range on the most widely used and researched neuropsychological test battery in the U.S., the Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Battery, despite relatively good IQ scores. Scores also suggest that brain damage is diffuse (all over the brain), rather than localized to one specific area.

Patients experience a variety of physical, psychological, and neurocognitive symptoms. The following are the most frequently reported symptoms on the Physical Symptom Checklist by patients exposed to toxigenic molds: easily fatigued, low energy, muscle weakness, trouble remaining asleep, aches and pains, sexual dysfunction, headaches, trouble falling asleep, sinus discomfort, and heart problems. The top 12 psychological symptoms include present performance inferior to prior performance or level of functioning, overwhelming exhaustion, fatigue or weariness, “this is not me”, difficulty getting started in the morning, “cloudy, foggy, spacey”, worry about bodily dysfunction, diminished self-confidence, tension, loss of interest in sexual activity, inability to cope well with daily or other stressors, feeling of losing control of one’s life and destiny, and loss of interest in activities. The most frequently reported neurocognitive symptoms include decreased immediate and short-term memory, decreased concentration, decreased attention, difficulty remembering the names of things or people, losing words, intellectual inefficiency (hard to think), easily distracted, decreased comprehension, poorly organized (“scattered”), and losing train of thought.

Psychological and personality/behavioral functioning is also affected as indicated by the number of psychological symptoms endorsed on the checklist and by the results on personality tests. Patients exposed to toxigenic molds indicate that they are more confused and fatigued and sometimes more depressed, anxious, and angry than they were prior to the toxic exposure. They also report a reduced level of vigor and activity. However, overall they appear generally psychologically healthy, with depression, anxiety, and poor coping ability secondary to ill health which sometimes results in a disabled condition.

Those exposed to toxigenic molds also experience a variety of losses to which they must adjust, including loss of home and belongings, loss of income, loss of ability to function as they had in the past in all areas, loss of personal freedom, and loss of relationships. Exposure to toxigenic molds, like other neurotoxic substances, results in the reduction of the level of comfort, achievement, satisfaction, and effectiveness of the majority of individuals exposed.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Nancy Didreksen received her Ph.D. in Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine from the University of North Texas in 1986, with a research emphasis in psychoneuroimmunology. As an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of North Texas, she has continued research into the adverse neuropsychological effects of environmental toxins and has published approximately 40 professional papers. For the past 25 years, she has also maintained a private practice in psychology in Richardson, Texas, where she evaluates and treats environmentally and chronically ill patients, in both in-patient and out-patient settings.

 

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July 22, 2018

Luke Curtis, my co-author of the review article on the Adverse Health Effect of Indoor Mold, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, wrote another important paper on the effects of mold that I would like to share with you.

My experience with hundreds of patients exposed and injured by mold demonstrated the multi-systemic nature of toxic mold exposure. However, I never fully realized the pathophysiology of these effects. Luke and his co-authors demonstrated that there is a major imbalance and dysfunction to the endocrine system specifically to growth hormone, thyroid, and the adrenal hormones.

To be specific, 51% were growth hormone deficient, 81% were thyroid deficient, and 75% were ACTH deficient. All of the seventy-nine patients were fatigued and 94% had chronic fungal sinusitis. In all of the deficient patients who were given supplemental growth hormone, thyroid, and cortisol, the fatigue was improved.

Of special interest to me was that only seventeen out of seventy-nine patients were aware of being mold exposed.

This paper documents what I always say, “Many physicians do not have the foggiest idea of what is wrong with a patient.” The field of Environmental Medicine is a new and exciting approach to the care of complex ill patients. We are trained and experienced to try and find the causes of disease.

In our practice, we see a large number of hormone deficient patients identified by hormone testing. Now, after reading Luke’s paper, I have added Insulin Growth Factor One (IgF1) to our evaluation of sick, tired patients to identify growth hormone deficiency. Although doing an endocrine work up is an additional expense, it is worth it if you identify the cause and can treat it successfully.

Treating deficient patients with Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is not as easy or as reasonable as the cost of thyroid or adrenal hormones. But if you are dragging and just not recovering from your chronic debilitating illness, a trial for one to three months may be well worth it. Unlike the other hormones that can be taken orally, growth hormone is given like insulin- by daily subcutaneous injections. Up until now, insurance companies have refused to pay for this treatment.

As Luke’s paper points out, there are now only 60,000 people with the accepted diagnosis that are receiving growth hormone. However, if toxic mold is causing this hormone loss, then the number of people who could benefit is closer to 4.8 million. There are secretagogues or mimics of HGH that are a fraction of the cost of the whole hormone and importantly may work almost as well.

Call the office if you would like to discuss this alert with me. Also, CLICK HERE if you would like to read the entire article.

Allan Lieberman, M.D., F.A.A.E.M.
Medical Director
Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine

 

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