Genova Diagnostics Blog

Exploring Health and Healing with Laboratory Testing


Are your hips toxic waste storage centers?

Toxins in body fatPersistent organic pollutants (POPs), like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and p,p'-dichlorophenyldichloroethylene (DDE) are everywhere. You cannot escape them—you absorb and store them in fat. Your muffin tops, hips, and thighs could be full of these toxins. If you lose weight they will be released, and your level of plasma POPs is related to your total weight lost.[1, 2, 3] A change in BMI greater than 14 kg/m2, like someone who goes on a significant fast or has bariatric surgery, can lead to a sharp jump in POP levels. And that is bad because POPs can affect endocrine, thyroid, nervous and immune systems, as well as impair your ability to do phase I and phase II detoxification—storing them in fat may be a defense mechanism.

So what are you to do? First, lower your exposure. High fat animal products such as dairy products, processed foods, farm raised salmon, and meats are major contributors of PCBs and dioxins.[4] Lower toxin levels are found in vegans and vegetarians.[5] Secondly, test your levels prior to weight loss. It may not be listed on your book club list, but the CDC published the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, which provides an ongoing evaluation of 148 chemicals in the U.S. population.[6,7] That’s good because it means you can test your levels and compare your results against a national standard.[6, 8, 9] Metametrix is one of the companies that does this testing.

If your levels are high, you can include some detoxification measures while you’re losing weight. Some people may find weight loss easier if they detoxify first. There are more than 600 studies on detoxification techniques.[10] Most include saunas, supplements, massages, dietary inclusions (such as fiber) and restrictions (such as high fat foods and farm raised salmon). Many of these steps can be included easily into weight loss programs and provide significant reductions of toxins. Again, testing is important because it lets you know what your risks are prior to losing weight. Those patients with higher levels of toxins are advised to add more detoxification protocols to their weight loss program to mitigate POP increases during weight loss.

  1. Hue O, Marcotte J, Berrigan F, et al. Increased plasma levels of toxic pollutants accompanying weight loss induced by hypocaloric diet or by bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. Sep 2006;16(9):1145-1154.
  2. Chevrier J, Dewailly E, Ayotte P, Mauriege P, Despres JP, Tremblay A. Body weight loss increases plasma and adipose tissue concentrations of potentially toxic pollutants in obese individuals. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. Oct 2000;24(10):1272-1278.
  3. Redgrave TG, Wallace P, Jandacek RJ, Tso P. Treatment with a dietary fat substitute decreased Arochlor 1254 contamination in an obese diabetic male. J Nutr Biochem. Jun 2005;16(6):383-384.
  4. Patandin S DP, Mulder PG,. Dietary exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins from infancy until adulthood: A comparison between breast-feeding, toddler, and long-term exposure. Environ Health Perspect. 1999;107(1):45-51.
  5. Dagnelie PC, van Staveren WA, Roos AH, Tuinstra LG, Burema J. Nutrients and contaminants in human milk from mothers on macrobiotic and omnivorous diets. Eur J Clin Nutr. May 1992;46(5):355-366.
  6. Ruiz P, Faroon O, Moudgal CJ, Hansen H, De Rosa CT, Mumtaz M. Prediction of the health effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and their metabolites using quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR). Toxicol Lett. Sep 2008;181(1):53-65.
  7. DHHS C, Department of Health and Human Services, Prevention CfDCa. Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. In: Health NCfE, ed. Vol 2005
  8. Ferriby LL, Knutsen JS, Harris M, et al. Evaluation of PCDD/F and dioxin-like PCB serum concentration data from the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of the United States population. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. Jul 2007;17(4):358-371.
  9. Krewski D, Andersen ME, Mantus E, Zeise L. Toxicity testing in the 21st century: implications for human health risk assessment. Risk Anal. Apr 2009;29(4):474-479.
  10. Herron RE, Fagan JB. Lipophil-mediated reduction of toxicants in humans: an evaluation of an ayurvedic detoxification procedure. Altern Ther Health Med. Sep-Oct 2002;8(5):40-51.

Comments (3) -

United States Tony Giancarlo

Dr. Redmond,

I noticed that on the list of potential detoxification measures that you listed saunas.

Would you happen to know of a reputable company from which to purchase one of these? I often see far infrared sauna being touted, but I also notice that certain people claim that various models can out gas chemicals that essentially end up defeating the purpose of being in the sauna in the first place.  I am just curious if you are aware of any particular companies that make trustworthy, high-quality models.

Additionally, I've seen mercury and mixed-metal dental fillings mentioned as potential reasons why one must be careful or avoid FIR saunas.  But I do not have much experience in this area, so I have not been able to separate fact from fiction.

Any suggestions or resources to look into on these matters would be appreciated.


I am sorry I am not familiar with specific companies. I listed some information by type of sauna below from an article: Components of Practical Detox Programs: Sauna as a Therapeutic Tool by Walter Crinnion, ND; Altern Ther Health Med. 2007 Mar-Apr;13(2):S154-6.


• IR-A (Near infrared-0-3,000 nm)—tissue penetration deepest up to 5 mm
Makes it to subcutaneous layer
Dissipates heat from surface the best
Beyond 3mm—best heat transfer
• IR-B (Mid infrared—3,000-5,500 nm) - tissue penetration to about 0.5 mm
• IR-C (Far infrared—5,500-7,000 nm) - tissue penetration of about 0.1 mm (despite claims IR-C has the deepest penetration)
• Radiant heaters as used in traditional saunas have all three wavelengths present (IR-A, IR-B, IR-C).


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