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Randall Fitzgerald's "The Hundred Year Lie" is the most important, convincing and blunt health-related book I've read since Colin Campbell's "The China Study." My immediate reaction after finishing this book was fear, but it was followed rather quickly by a sense of empowerment and determination. I am recommending this book to friends and everyone in my family.
Mr. Fitzgerald has packed an enormous amount of alarming and scientifically-based information on a wide range of topics that directly impact our health and quality of life into an engrossing, well-organized and shocking book. Even though much of this information has been available (with a bit of effort) for some time, I have not seen it organized so ingeniously or presented in such a stark, authoritative and grounded fashion. By "grounded", I mean that it is alarming in its content but not hysterical in its tone. Hundreds if not thousands of scientists worldwide have been trying to sound the alarm about the effects of synthetic chemicals on our environment, bodies and reproductive capacity for several years, but because the information is so upsetting it has not been readily accepted or discussed by the larger population.
In one of the book's most mesmerizing chapters, Fitzgerald crafts a painstaking, revealing time-line of our last century in which it becomes possible to fathom the causes and effects set into motion by the introduction of synthetic chemicals, drugs and food additives to our lives. It becomes virtually impossible to accept that the exponential rise in cancer, heart disease, birth defects and diabetes are wholly unrelated to these trends in our dietary habits and exposure to unregulated toxins in our food, water and environment.
Mr. Fitzgerald deftly juggles a wide variety of subjects, but the chapter that most outraged me is his chapter on the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on the reproductive potential of many species--including the human being. I knew that entire populations of amphibians and fish had been decimated by herbicides, fungidcides, pesticides and plastics, but I had no idea the extent to which the human population had been impacted.
Among the many facts presented in this book worth careful consideration is that ten percent of American couples are unable to conceive, and that a recent study of in vitro fertilization revealed that 80% of three hundred embryos sampled from healthy women in their twenties were genetically defective (the actual percentage was probably higher, as only eleven chromosomes were tested). If that is not enough, consider that a 2001 study in China "found that 85 percent of university students tested were infertile."
Am I the only one who finds the implications of this chilling? And Fitzgerald provides page after page of this sort of information along with a bibliography whose sources verify it. I had trouble believing, for example, that in Canada there is a grossly disproportionate ratio of female to male births (less than 35% males) and was able to corroborate this by reading a study on a website managed by concerned scientists and cited in "The Hundred Year Lie." Yes, it is hard to believe--and, Yes, it appears to be true.
One reason this book is so solid is that it is not bogged down in sentiment or emotionalism, nor is it an environmental manifesto encouraging some sort of assault against the chemical, pharmaceutical and government regulatory agencies. It is blunter than that, and more in touch with the sad reality we face: We simply will never be able to count on the accurate dissemination of information about how to eat and live healthfully from government agencies like the USDA, the chemical industry that introduces thousands of untested chemicals into our foods and plastics every year, or from the pharmaceutical companies that have a vested interest in Americans remaining chronically ill with cancer, coronary disease, auto-immune disorders and diabetes. One look at the absurd Food Pyramid should tell you all you need to know about the reliability of the government regarding nutritional and health matters.
"Hundred Year Lie" is lean and "nutrient-dense" almost to the point of being factually overwhelming. There is no padding, no wasted prose. Fitzgerald's book is an eloquent, provocative, thoroughly-reasoned and ruthlessly pragmatic examination of the situation we find ourselves in, not as it could or should be in some Utopian world. He urges us to take responsibility for our own lives, to disease-proof our bodies and environments to the degree feasible--because, realistically speaking, this is our only option if we want to attempt to free ourselves from the misery of chronic disease. Admittedly, this is not a message most Americans seem to want to hear right now, which is one reason I fear this important book may not receive the attention it deserves. My hope is that we will be surprised, and that this extraordinary book will awaken people.
My only criticism of this book is that I wish it were footnoted--I just like footnotes in science and health-related books. On the upside, the text and bibliography are so comprehensive that it is a simple matter to pursue avenues of interest raised by Fitzgerald. I believe this book is an important achievement: the right book, appearing at the right time, and I hope people read it and alert others about the content contained in it.