Local author sounds alarm for toxicity
Congratulations, you are a scientist.
The prerequisite? Birth.
In the comfort of our own homes and within the safety precautions of approved household products, each day we are all scientists - performing experiments on ourselves and each other without knowing the potential outcomes, according to West Linn resident and author Randall Fitzgerald.
His new book The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine are Destroying Your Health was featured on ABC's The View and on national radio shows and discusses problems consumers face from a chemical crossfire.
'We are all guinea pigs in a vast chemical experiment that is modern civilization and there is no instruction manual,' Fitzgerald said. 'We're in denial about the nature of what is in our products - whether it be food, personal care or medicine. It all gets back to having bought into a synthetics belief system, the idea that a chemistry laboratory can create something that is superior to the natural foods and medicine in nature.'
And while Fitzgerald acknowledges remarkable advances with medical technology, his book brought to the forefront the idea that our overall health as a culture is decreasing rapidly. In The Hundred-Year Lie the former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter said he conquers myths initiated by the chemical, pharmaceutical and processed foods industries.
Since moving to West Linn just weeks ago, he said he is excited to continue his healthier lifestyle in a new community committed to wellness and well being. But he wonders if everyone else is.
Creating a mutant species
While absorbing the information from his findings on toxicity, Fitzgerald visited a detoxification center in Florida and said he has been more health conscious since.
He said his observations and experience there - in addition to his book research - were influential and said there are small steps consumers can take each day to better their health.
Plentiful food, medicine for common ailments, cheap and effective personal care products - but at whose expense?
Everyone's, Fitzgerald said.
Most naturally occurring foods and medicines are healthy for our bodies and have been for generations. But a majority of synthetic chemicals in food and medicines create a health risk, he said.
While overseeing a team of researchers and medical specialists to gather information for the book, Fitzgerald witnessed the uncovering of disturbing evidence, he said. The average American carries 700 or more synthetic chemicals, including Teflon residues, plastics and pesticides.
We drink from polluted waters; consume turkey, cheese, milk and ice creams contaminated by a fire retardant chemical; and we use about nine different care products a day containing 126 separate ingredients.
Fitzgerald said that we have no idea how those ingredients affect us individually or when mixed with other products - other chemicals.
In the book, Fitzgerald describes the synthetics beliefs system as being in a state of denial, believing that there is a 'better life through chemistry.'
He also said that according to the American Medical Association, more than 100,000 people die in this country from adverse reactions to the chemicals in prescription drugs.
'Imagine for a moment if over 100,000 people were dying each year in plane crashes as a result of faulty engines. Do you think people would continue to fly? Well, the answer is no,' Fitzgerald said. 'But because we have this silent epidemic of people dying from adverse reactions to prescription drugs it's easier for the state of denial to remain in place.'
The Hundred-Year Lie, Fitzgerald said, is a collection of myths that together make the lie, giving consumers a false sense of security about the safety of foods and medicines.
Once in a grocery store he said he noticed the 'Health Food' isle.
'If we have a health food section does that mean the other isles are illness food, are disease food? The death section?' Fitzgerald said. 'It seems like an oxymoron to describe one isle as health food because that certainly implies quite accurately that all the other isles are suspect.'
Fitzgerald believes that the decline of human health started in 1906 - the year U.S. Congress passed the Pure Foods and Drug Act. From there, he said, thousands of chemicals and toxins have been introduced into the marketplace, most without knowing long-term effects to the human body or synergistic effects.
Now, he said, our bodies decompose slower than they did 30 years ago because we absorb so many chemicals. Products taken orally are only one piece of the problem; personal hygiene products used are also absorbed into our bodies.
Fitzgerald said that more than 25,000 chemicals are in the cosmetics sold in the U.S., yet less than 4 percent of the ingredients have ever been tested for toxicity and safety.
Chemicals affect the unborn, children, the elderly and everyone in between, he said.
While in the womb, babies are exposed to household chemicals and food contamination. Additives and preservatives - including mercury, aluminum, MSG, formaldehyde - are within vaccines given to children before entering school. Adults expose themselves to pesticides, hormones and over prescribed antibiotics.
Pharmaceuticals are marketed in a 'one dose fits all' format, he said, because 'they can't market it any other way.'
'We all have different metabolic rates of processing these chemicals and we have different bio-chemistry needs of the body,' Fitzgerald said. 'We're always being over medicated and over prescribed.'
With hundreds of thousands of chemicals in use today, many have not been tested for toxicity in humans or in combination with other chemicals, he said. The burden is too large; to test all existing chemicals for synergistic effects, it would take nearly 200 million different experiments and roughly a thousand years.
Fitzgerald says his book is intended to be a 'wake-up call' to inspire action and aid in the health education process. While our bodies will never be free of toxins, he said each of us can reduce our exposure by making life choices.
Rewinding the damage
His journalism background and experience writing for popular magazines taught him to question the environment around him. What began as a concern for the health of friends and family turned into an extensive research project with interesting results about human health.
'I wanted to raise an alarm without being alarming,' Fitzgerald said. 'Unless we're willing to acknowledge that the conveniences of modern life come with invisible price tags then we're still in a deep state of denial and at the mercy of whatever will ail us - (and) whatever prescription we're given for that ailment.'
While there is no way to eliminate the toxins and harmful chemicals that seep into our bodies, he said, there are ways to manage them - first, by acknowledging that they're there.
This, he said, requires a conscious shift toward empowering our immune systems the natural way, using food as nature intended - to protect ourselves from sickness and disease.
He relocated to West Linn from northern California and said he enjoys his new city for its nature, village area and consciousness for healthy living.
Fitzgerald said that within his lifetime he would like to see some changes within the food, drug and consumer industries, and also within ourselves.
'I would like to see every person taking responsibility for his or her own health and have access to enough information to where they can make informed choices,' Fitzgerald said. 'We are all toxic; it's just a matter of degree.'
To learn more about Fitzgerald's book The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine are Destroying Your Health visit the Web site at www.hundredyearlie.com. To purchase the book, visit Healthy Spaces in West Linn at 1833 Willamette Falls Dr.