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Wealthy People Accumulate Different Toxicants Than The Poor, Study Says

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Turns out the 99% and the 1% have even less in common -- at least when it comes to the types of chemicals their bodies accumulate.

A new study from the University of Exeter suggests rich people and poor people have different chemical pollutants in their systems because of different exposure patterns.

Using the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to look at links between different toxicants and the poverty income ratio, researchers were "able to show strong associations between 18 different chemicals and poverty ratings," according to an abstract of the report.

"We’ve found that as people become better off, changes in their lifestyle alter the types of chemicals in their bodies, rather than reducing the overall amount," lead researcher Dr. Jessica Tyrrell said in a statement released by the school.

"Chemicals do accumulate in everybody, but importantly, the type of chemical is dependent on your wealth," Tyrrell explains in a video by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health. For the most part, you are what you eat.

Have you upgraded from fast-food burgers to sushi spreads in the name of health? Fish and shellfish are loaded with cesium, arsenic and mercury -- toxicants found among those with greater incomes. (At high levels, mercury can harm the brain and damage the kidneys, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry notes.)

Proud of finally heeding your dermatologist's advice and using that daily SPF moisturizer? As Quartz sums up:

The rich also had higher levels of benzophenone-3, aka oxybenzone, the active ingredient in most sunscreens, which is under investigation by the EU and, argue some experts, may actually encourage skin cancer.

According to the study, chemicals related to cigarette smoking and bad diets (e.g., cadmium and lead) were more common among lower income levels, which also showed higher levels of BPA -- the controversial chemical that lines many cans and plastic bottles and has been linked to infertility.

"This [realization] has a profound impact on the way we treat chemical build ups, suggesting we should move to dealing with groups based on lifestyle, rather than earnings," Tyrrell said in the statement.

The study hopes to "guide future public health remediation measures to decrease toxicant and disease burdens within society." In the meantime, as Huffington Post blogger Dr. Joanna Dolgoff points out, take solace in the fact that for the most part, our bodies are prepared to process toxins naturally.

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