I have just finished reading The Body Toxic by Nena Baker and would like to recommend it to others. While the book doesn’t have anything to do with MS, I feel that the healthier we can live our lives, the better off we will likely be in the long run. The book discusses toxic chemicals that we are commonly exposed to in our everyday lives. These include atrazine (a commonly used agriculture herbicide and pesticide), phthalates (a plasticizing agent used to make plastics soft and flexible), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (a flame retardant related to PCBs), bisphenol-a (the primary constituent of polycarbonate plastics), and perfluorocarbons (used in non-stick and stain repellent coatings). Several of these chemicals function as endocrine disrupters at exceedingly low concentrations and can lead to cancer and developmental malformations. While I don’t live a 100% toxic free life by any means, I have been making an effort to live a healthier life since being diagnosed with MS. I believe that this book and the many references it contains (including some good online resources) can be an important tool to those ends.
The Body Toxic
: How the hazardous chemistry of everyday things threatens our health and well-being. by Nena Baker, 2008
From the inside of the dust jacket:
We are running a collective chemical fever that we cannot break. Everyone everywhere now carries a dizzying array of chemical contaminants, the by-products of modern industry and innovation, and health problems in ways just now being understood. These toxic substance, unknown to our grandparents, accumulate in our fat, bones, blood, and organs as a consequence of womb-to-tomb exposure to industrial compounds as common as the products that contain them. Almost everything we encounter - from soap to soup cans, computers to clothing - contributes to a chemical load unique to each of us. Scientists studying the phenomenon refer to it as "chemical body burden."
In The Body Toxic, the investigative journalist Nena Baker explores the many factors that have given rise to this situation, including manufacturing breakthroughs, policy decisions, political pressure, and the demands of popular culture. Chemical advances have helped raise our standard of living, making our lives easier and safer in many ways. Yet there are costs to these conveniences that chemical companies would rather consumers never know about, and Baker draws back the curtain on this untold impact assessing where we go from here.
Nena Baker is a former staff writer for The Arizona Republic, The Oregonian, and United Press International. Her award-winning investigation of Nike’s Indonesian factories in the early 1990s led to numerous improvements for workers. She is a graduate of Lewis & Clark College.