St. Petersburg Health & Wellness

Ecological Medicine – Les Cole, MD
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“If someone blew up a hospital or infected a water supply, we’d view it as an act of health terrorism. But pumping persistent organic pollutants into the atmosphere, clearing forests, over-using resources and contributing to global warming are equally inimical to health.”

– Howard Frumkin, MD, Emory Medical School


“Science is only man’s approximation of knowledge of nature, which will forever be beyond our comprehensive abilities. With every intervention taken, based on this perceived “knowledge”, there will be unintended consequences. It is only the humility of this insight that make us nimble and courageous enough to undo our mistakes.”

– Les Cole, MD

In 2000, Kofi Annan initiated the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment commissioning 1360 natural and social scientists to investigate the status of the world’s ecosystems as a result of human related activities. The findings reported in 2005 revealed that:

  • Over the last 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than ever, resulting in a substantial and largely irreversible loss of biological diversity.
  • In the same time, there has been an abrupt alteration in water quality.
  • 25% of mammals and 30% of amphibians are threatened with extinction.
  • Growing pressures from overharvesting, climate change, invasive species, and nutrient loading place an unprecedented burden on the earth’s ecosystems.

Their conclusion: “At the heart of this assessment is a stark warning. Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.”


Every living organism is dependent on the organisms beneath them in the food chain in order to sustain and maintain their species. Man is at the top of the food chain, which makes us – you and me – dependent on all the other species that we share a planet with. For example, we do not eat bees, but we eat honey which they produce, but even more importantly we are dependent on them for pollination of much of what grows on the planet. According an article in the Renewable Resources Journal, 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of wild vegetation depend on cross-pollination. So what happens to man if bees are one of the species threatened with extinction?


Equally alarming is the finding that the average sperm count of today’s young men is only 50% of what it was in the young men of just 50 years ago…


How is this happening? What is causing these changes?

Let’s begin by looking at the smallest living common denominator to all organisms, both plant and animal – the cell. When you look at any living organism (other than viruses, etc.), all of its parts are made up of cells. So, in order for any organism to thrive, its cells have to thrive. How do cells work? The genes in the nucleus code for proteins that, once transcribed, go out and do the gene’s bidding. Proteins thus make everything within the cell happen. Proteins either form structure, like connective tissue; signaling molecules, like hormones; or enzymes, which direct every chemical reaction in the cell. There are millions of these chemical reactions that require nutrients, which they convert into important molecules that go on to other enzymes for further conversion and, in so doing, do the work of making the cell “live”. Without all of these chemical reactions the cells wouldn’t live and neither would any organisms made of them – including you and me. These chemical reactions are called “cellular metabolism” and they have an absolute dependence on getting the right kind and amount of nutrients to occur optimally. So, if cellular metabolism is optimal, the organism thrives. Then, if you are the organism, say, and you are getting all the right macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc., your cells should thrive, right? Well, maybe yes and maybe no.


It depends on whether your cells are also taking something into them that blocks or disrupts their natural metabolism. This could be something that damages the genes so that abnormal enzymes are made that don’t function well or at all. This could be something that temporarily or irreversibly binds an enzyme so it can’t function. This could be something that damages or replaces a necessary nutrient that the enzyme needs to work on. It could be something that depletes or replaces important minerals that work as cofactors to enzymatic reactions. It could be something that causes oxidative stress using up vitamins that are antioxidants. There are literally thousands of these toxic chemicals and thousands of ways they disrupt metabolism.


So what are Toxins aka Metabolic Disruptors?

This is the part we need to educate ourselves about so we can make informed personal decisions that will protect us and our families and children. This is especially true in our children because metabolic disruption during critical developmental periods can be especially damaging.


There is no way to address every toxic substance in this short article, but here are a few and a good place to begin your education:

  • Air Pollution – nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide (at current levels), carbon monoxide (CO), particulates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, etc.), second hand smoke, radon, mold, negative ion depletion, off-gassing of formaldehyde-containing furniture and carpets, solvents, cleaning solutions, pestacides.
    • There is a positive correlation between air pollution and neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and others).
    • As air pollution increases, so does cardiovascular disease and related events (MI, stroke, death).
    • Mice exposed to air pollution developed increased adipose inflammation and insulin resistance (precursors of type 2 diabetes).
    • Air pollution is directly associated with increased inflammation.
    • High CO levels are associated with increased hospital admissions for heart failure.
    • Almost 1,000,000 people (doesn’t include other animals or ecosystems) die annually worldwide from air pollution alone.
  • Water & Soil (thus Food) Pollution – Including the polar ice caps & glaciers, only 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh. Much of that liquid 3% has been contaminated by pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceutical drugs (hormones, antibiotics, antidepressants, statins, NSAIDs, etc), industrial solvents, heavy metals, VOCs, radon, nitrates, dioxin, PCBs, DDE, trans-Nonachlor, hexachlorobenzene, hexachlorocyclohexanes, DDT, other persistent organic pollutants (POPs), perchlorate, bacteria, BPAs, phthalates, etc.
    • Bottled water costs up to 10,000 times as much as tap water and creates 1.5 tons of plastic waste per year.
      • By regulation, it is held to the exact same standards as tap water, so you only have the company’s word that it is any better. Some studies have shown unacceptable coliform bacterial levels.
      • The plastic contamination of our waters is becoming a big problem.
      • Plastics leach BPAs & phthalates.
      • For every 1 standard deviation increase of BPA concentration in the urine, there is a 39% increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D).
      • POPs are stored in fat. The higher up the food chain you are (we are at the top), the greater the concentrated these are in the organisms stored fat.
        • People with the highest exposure to POPS have a 3800% increased occurrence of T2D compared to those with the lowest exposure.
      • People with the highest amounts of arsenic in their urine have a 358% increased occurrence of T2D compared to those with the lowest amount.
      • Lead is known to cause brain damage, especially in developing children, but it causes so many other problems. Mercury is even more dangerous. Both cause: Atherosclerosis, High Blood Pressure, Coronary Heart Disease, Carotid Artery Disease, and Peripheral Vascular Disease among other conditions including neurodegeneration.


These are just a few of the toxins we and every other ecosystem are exposed to. We’ve all seen movies about toxic dump sites where the nearby communities start coming down with varied illnesses including cancers. “Erin Brockovich” was a movie about one of the rare cases that found for the injured victims. Usually these cases are too costly to even pursue. But that is after the Earth and Ecosystems (including human) are already damaged. The Genie is already out of the bottle, so to speak. The best way to protect your family is to educate yourself. The Environmental Working Group is one good place to start at


There are thousands of these metabolic disruptors to which we are exposed every day. Fortunately, our bodies are designed to detoxify most (but not all i.e. mercury) metabolic disruptors, however, one problem is that fat soluble toxins store in fat. The liver is the primary detoxifying organ. Removal of these metabolic disruptors can be enhanced through chelation and detoxification. When undergoing either procedure, it is extremely important to replenish both specific types and amounts of nutrients so that further or additional metabolic injury does not occur. For example, detoxifying through fasting causes fat loss and thus release of fat soluble toxins, but quickly uses up vital nutrients used in the detoxification process. Because you are not eating, these nutrients are not replenished and now there are higher toxin levels circulating in your tissues that have lower nutrient levels to combat them. This can cause even more damage. We offer both chelation and detoxification in our office along with the appropriate replenishment of vital nutrients.


If you would like more information or wish to schedule an appointment to see Dr. Cole please call at one of our convenient Pinellas locations – St. Petersburg / Tarpon Springs.

Article History

Published: December 02, 2013