I read a disturbing article in MedPage Today—Metformin: A Great Lakes Disaster?
Metformin is one of the most common drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, which is mostly a lifestyle disease (obesity), is epidemic in the United States. Seventy million prescriptions for metformin were dispensed in 2013. That year the cost of treating type 2 diabetes, just for the drugs, was $23 billion.
But the environment is paying, too.
Researchers have found high levels of metformin in Lake Michigan—and this is water after it has been treated in the sewage plants.
More importantly, according to their latest research, the levels of metformin were so high that the drug could be disrupting the endocrine systems of fish.
It is so ubiquitous it can easily be found in water samples taken two miles off the shore of Lake Michigan.
The drugs get into the sewage and eventually the lake because they are not broken down completely after they are consumed and then excreted.
Other commonly found substances include caffeine, sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic, and triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal found in soap and other consumer products.
Triclosan is in lots of products, such as toothpaste, deodorant and hand soap.
Related post: Is triclosan in soap and toothpaste safe?
The health effects are not limited to fish. Prescription drugs are in our drinking water, too. Yuck.
Examples of medicines that have been found in national water sources:
• Prescription hormones
• Blood pressure medications
• Cholesterol medications
Safety issues that may be linked to medicines in national water sources:
• Possible increased rates of cancer
• Possible organ damage from long periods of exposure to medicine
• Possible organ damage from the intake of unusual mixtures of medicines
• The development of antibiotic resistant bacteria
I’ve said many times in this blog that Americans take too many prescription drugs. Think about that next time you enjoy a glass of seemingly clean water.