Friday, July 1, 2011

Want to Boost Hormone Production? POP Crude Cod Liver Oil or Industrial Waste: Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Crude Cod Liver Oil Modulate Steroidogenesis.

Image 1: If you are concerned
about the hormonal side(?)-effects
of persistent organic pollutants,
better make sure you buy pharma-
ceutical grade cod liver oil.
I know, what you are thinking now: "Not again, the ProfDrAndro anti-fish oil rant." Yet, this is neither about your beloved fish oil, nor is it ranting. Its an unfortunate fact that environmental poisons such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) find their way into the food-chain of fish. The fish your shiny cod liver oil pills are made of are no exception from this rule and if the producers did not take (costly) measures to remove these toxins from the crude cod liver oil, chances are the non-dioxin-like POPs have already begun to accumulate in your adrenal coretex (Colby. 1994; Ribelin. 1984). So, even if you are a fish-oil enthusiast, give this blogpost a chance and read on...

Still ahead of print is a study by Montano and some European colleagues (Montano. 2011). In their paper which will be published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, the authors describe the effects of crude cod liver oil, pharmaceutical grade cod liver oil and the industrial waste that is produced in the manufacturing process of the former on human adrenocortical adenome cells. The latter are considered a valid tool to model the general effects of exogenous toxins on steroidogenic key pathways in humans. They will yet not provide quantitative dose response relationships between oral intake of "contaminated" fish oils. It would thus warrant further investigations how much of the "Crude Atlantic Cod Liver Oil" that was used in the study you would have to consume to achieve the (un-)desired(?) hormonal "boost" both the crude cod liver oil and the industrial residue induced even at the lowest (dilution factor 1/10000), the pharmaceutical grade oil only at the highest concentrations (dilution factor: 2.5/1000):
‘‘Cod’’[crude cod liver oil] mixture significantly increased cortisol and P4 [progesterone] production at all concentrations tested. It also increased T [testosterone] production at 1E-3-dilution and E2 [estradiol] at the two highest concentrations. ‘‘Pharm’’ [pharmaceutical grade cod liver oil] mixture in contrast, was unable to significantly trigger changes in hormone production, with the exception of increased E2 production by the highest concentration tested (2.5E-3-dilu-tion). However, the production of E2 triggered by the highest ‘‘Pharm’’ concentration was half from that produced by the exposure to ‘‘Cod’’ and ‘‘Ind Res’’ at the same dilution. ‘‘Ind Res’’ mixture significantly induced the production of E2, P and Cort at 1E-3-dilution.
Assuming that you do not consume the industrial waste (God knows what is in all those cheap fish oil products out there, though), the data in figure 1 shows that you would still ramp up your hormone production significantly (i.e. statistically significantly), as long as you bath your steroidogenic cells in high enough concentrations of polluted crude cod liver oil.
Figure 1: Induction in hormone expression in human adrenocortical adenoma cells after incubation with crude cod liver oil (Cod) or pharmaceutical grade cod liver oil (Pharma) at doses of 1/10000 (E-4) and 1/1000 (E-3) relative to control (DMSO)
(data adapted from Montano. 2011)
These results shed a new light on some of the studies showing ergogenic / anabolic effects with fish oil supplementation - what if it was not the fish oil, but rather the pollutants in the oil that increased hormonal output and lead to small, yet statistically significant effects in terms of muscle gain, fat loss or whatever else was measured in these studies? Well, I guess if you want to take "advantage" of these toxins you just have to keep buying the cheapest fish oil out there from the most shady supplement company you can find. If, however, you insist on having fish oil as a source of supplemental n-3 PUFAs (instead of just reducing the overload of n-6 fats in your diet), these results would indicate that it may be wise to invest a few more bucks into some legitimate pharmaceutical grade fish or cod-liver oil, regardless of whether or not you believe that oral dosing would elevate tissue concentrations of POPs enough to replicate the effects observed in this in-vitro study. Afterall, with daily ingestion of polluted fish oil, tissue accumulation would certainly be an issue.