Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Did my House make my kitty hyperthyroid?

This is such an eeeek! My New York City street kitty became suddenly hyperthyroid when we moved to Providence...and we did buy some new furniture, mattresses, sofa, etc. I can't help but wonder...

From Mary Shomon, the Thyroid goddess:

Chemical-Laden Household Dust May Pose Thyroid Danger to Cats

Flame-retardant chemicals that are added to everything from carpeting to furniture may be responsible for a dramatic increase in hyperthyroidism in cats, according to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study published August 15, 2007.

The chemicals, known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, were introduced around 30 years ago****, for use in households as a flame retardant. This coincides with the increasing incidence of overactive thyroid disease in cats. Hyperthyroidism was rare several decades ago, and is now one of the leading causes of death in pet cats. It’s known that key risk factors for feline hyperthyroidism are for indoor cats and those who eat canned foods....

They're in our homes. They're sleeping on our mattresses and furniture." Dye believes that house cats are ingesting the PBDEs, which are present in household dust, as they carefully groom themselves.

Linda Birnbaum, director of the Experimental Toxicology Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, told HealthDay news, "Cats are very highly exposed to these chemicals, and the levels in cats are higher than the levels in people. But cats may be a good indicator of indoor exposure to humans.”

In the study, researchers compared levels of PBDE in healthy cats and cats with hyperthyroidism, and found that the cats with an overactive thyroid had PBDE levels 20 to 100 times higher than the average adult human in the United States. All the cats had detectable levels of PBDEs, but the highest levels were seen in cats with hyperthyroidism.

The researchers also found that the PBDE content of certain canned cat foods –- in particular, seafood flavors like salmon and whitefish –- is substantially higher than dry or non-seafood canned cat food.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats include hunger, increased appetite, weight loss, increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, and vocalizing.

According to Dye, “Our results showed that cats are being consistently exposed to PBDE. Because they are endocrine-disrupting agents, cats may well be at increased risk for developing thyroid effects.”

According to Dye, cats and humans are the only mammals with high incidences of hyperthyroidism. The paper suggests that cats are, in a way, the canaries in the coal mine, suggesting a possible thyroid risk of PBDEs to humans. While a causal link between the PBDEs and feline thyroid problems has not been proven, more research will be done to investigate. If the relationship is proven, then similar research on the effects of PBDEs on humans will be conducted.

Read more here.


*** These chemicals--ahem--have been banned in Europe for quite a while, BTW. Since we've gotten wise to this, when we do purchasae furniture, we go to IKEA because it's made to those European standards. WHY do we keep insisting on poisoning ourselves????


Jenny said...

Very disturbing article, but an excellent post. I have to think that the very same chemicals that contribute to thyroid disease in cats may have contributed to my developing hyperthyroidism.

GreenFertility said...

Jenny, I think it's absolutely possible. I just met someone today whose teflon (heated) killed their birds...if it kills birds, how can we think it's ok for us?

Miranda said...

When I lived in the toxic soup that is Hoboken, NJ (brown skies, old lead water pipes, etc.), my former street kitty developed hyperthyroidism. At the time I had a used sofa with very fake, processed fabric on it. Several years later *I* developed a thyroid condition (now resolved). We both spent a lot of time on that sofa and between the outgassing and the local environment I'm sure we both were affected!

GreenFertility said...

Hey Miranda--

So how'd you resolve your thyroid problem???

Anonymous said...