A useful warning against embarking on detoxification without medical supervision.

TOXIN TOXOUT

GETTING HARMFUL CHEMICALS OUT OF OUR BODIES AND OUR WORLD

Canadian environmentalists Smith and Lourie collaborate again in a follow-up to Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Effects Our Health (2010).

As in their previous book, the authors offer themselves as guinea pigs. This time, they focus on “the multibillion-dollar detox industry.” In response to the intense interest” awakened by their previous investigation, they examine how the body can eliminate harmful toxins. Though Smith and Lourie welcome a long-term trend to reduce the pollutants in our environment, they respect their readers’ immediate concerns about health and vitality. To what extent can the body rid itself of the contaminants released by common household items, from pesticides to plastic containers, as well as preservatives in cosmetics and processed food? With a group of collaborators, they first compared ordinary cosmetic products to their green counterparts, using a multipart urine analysis. On the first day, in order to establish a base line, participants went cold turkey on cosmetics. On the second day, they used conventional products provided by the authors, followed by another cosmetic-free day and then a day using only green personal care items. The green products were clear winners, but as Lourie notes, despite our best efforts, we are “exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of potentially harmful chemicals.” Then the authors investigated the effectiveness of a variety of alleged detox mechanisms—e.g., fasting, chelation therapy, ionic footbaths, sauna therapy and more. Although ingesting chelating agents is a proven remedy for serious cases of heavy metal poisoning, the agents also remove important minerals from the body. Judging by the analysis of their own urine before and after, the authors found insignificant improvement in most cases, and they often experienced significant discomfort.

A useful warning against embarking on detoxification without medical supervision.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-05133-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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