When nature calls, you answer. Then you flush and probably pay little mind to what goes down the pipes. But scientists are learning that your urine is a gold mine (no pun intended) of information about what's going on in your body and what you're being exposed to every day.
For the first time ever, scientists have analyzed the chemical composition of urine and discovered that it contains 3,079 compounds, which include not only the general waste by-products from all the biological from processes your body performs to keep you alive, but also chemicals from the foods, drinks, and drugs you consume and the environmental contaminants you’re exposed to. Surprisingly, 2,282—roughly three-fourths—of those compounds are from environmental chemicals found in cosmetics, household goods, food, and drugs. The researchers found evidence of hormone disruptors like bisphenol A and phthalates, pesticides, and the flame-retardant chemicals added to furniture and building materials.
Read More: 1,300+ Chemicals Are Messing with Your Hormones
The goal of the study was to better understand the urine "metabolome," a term that refers to all the metabolites (breakdown products) of chemicals and biological materials that you consume or come into contact with every day. But the information revealed about chemicals in urine could become invaluable to researchers looking to determine everyday chemical and pollution exposures. The urine samples used in the study came from 22 healthy adults, and the researchers combined what they detected in those adults with other scientific studies that have analyzed the content of the average person's urine.
Their research was published in the journal PLoS One and in a free online database, urinemetabolome.ca.
Why bother? In addition to giving doctors a better sense of what chemicals you're being exposed to every day, your pee is a hugely valuable tool to diagnose a wide variety of health problems, everything from cancer to diabetes to arthritis and joint problems, the authors write. And you produce a ton of it: Most people enough over the course of their lives to fill an average five-foot-deep backyard swimming pool.
Published on: September 10, 2013
Updated on: September 11, 2013