Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Messing With Mother Nature

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about toxins.  Mostly, it seems that the topic finds its way to me rather than me seeking it out, and that could be a result of the heightened awareness in the US of just how many chemicals we come in contact with every day.  Whatever the reason, I'm doing my best to examine the issues as rationally as I can without freaking out.  The difficulty for me comes when I bump up against cultural or societal standards that don't jive with what I'm learning - especially in a social setting - and I'm not sure how to proceed.

A few months ago I decided to toss all of my antiperspirant/deodorants and go looking for more 'natural' products.  I had been reading about more and more studies investigating links between aluminum and parabens (both present in the majority of antiperspirant/deodorants) and breast cancer. While there is no 'definitive' evidence yet, the fact that more than half of all tumors found in breast tissue contain either parabens or aluminum or both was enough to make me hedge my bets and find something else.  I did this quietly (although I also replaced both of my daughters' old products with more natural ones and explained to them that I felt like it was better to use more natural products than man-made chemicals) and haven't tried to convince any friends or family to do the same.  I don't want to be obnoxious or presumptuous.

For years now I have bought mostly organically grown foods and avoided milk that is produced by cows who are treated with growth hormones. I spend the extra money for grass-fed beef and free-range, organic eggs and shop as locally as possible.  Again, this is a lifestyle change I have made personally and I don't go out evangelizing or pushing these choices on anyone else for the most part.  One notable exception to that is that I will occasionally share my views with like-minded friends on Facebook, either by 'liking' something they link to or mention or supporting a particular company.

I do feel as though it is challenging to find evidence that is concrete one way or the other in many instances. It often seems as though choosing sides is the American way and once you've decided which team you're rooting for, you have to believe every single thing they say. More often than not, I try to err on the side of not messing with Mother Nature and eschewing products that contain things I'm unsure about.

Ultimately, I don't support companies like Montsanto because I think genetically modifying food products is a recipe for disaster. We may think we've tested these ideas, but we can't know what will happen generations down the line. I agree that finding ways to keep the global population healthy is important, but in my experience, shortcuts almost always lead to disaster down the line.  Manipulating the balance of the ecosystem by giving some plants and animals a leg up over others could (and often has) come back to bite us in the butt.

But I don't like to get in to conversations about these kinds of things.  Especially with people who disagree with me.  Not because I am unsure about the evidence I have for my ideas, but because I am unsure that there is any way to know definitively until it's all over and done.

I will not get my girls vaccinated for chickenpox or HPV. Won't. They also don't get an annual flu shot.  Neither do I. At the risk of sounding like a paranoid consipiracy-theorist, I don't trust the medical model that tells me to put chemicals I know are toxic (yes, they do still use thimerosal - aka Mercury - as a preservative in vaccines) in to my body or the developing bodies of my kids.  I wish I could say that I am 100% certain that vaccines are responsible for many developmental delays and disorders such as autism. I can't. But I think the science that points in that direction makes sense - and I do have a degree in biology with a minor in chemistry, so I have some credibility there.  And I do think that the vaccine manufacturers and the AMA as a whole have a vested, non-impartial interest in continuing vaccine practices.  And I'd rather not look back 25 years from now and regret that I didn't listen to my gut.

Do I want to cite studies and get in to a war of words with someone who is convinced I'm wrong?
Nope.
Will I continue to make decisions I think are best for myself and my family?
Yep.
Will I come to the defense of others who want to do the same?
Absolutely.

So what about developing countries? What about organizations that are doing their best, in an altogether altruistic fashion, to prevent disease in third world countries? How do I support their mission if I don't believe in the way they go about it?  I would love to say I fully embrace the Gates Foundation. But they are firmly connected with Montsanto and dedicated to vaccinating practices.  I love the notion of mosquito nets and tried-and-true contraception/family planning methods.  I can't get behind planting GMO corn and soybeans in a vulnerable country and giving possibly-toxic vaccines to a vulnerable population.  Therein lies the rub.

I do take advantage of many of the conveniences of modern life, many of which I know are not good for the planet (my car, plastic garbage bags, cat litter) or myself (Advil, maxi pads, ice cream). I am not naive enough to believe that I don't benefit greatly from some of the things chemists have concocted over the years.  But I am doing my best to avoid doing more damage than I ought to, both to myself and the planet at large.

So, as much as possible, I will keep my mouth shut and go about living my life the way I think is best. You may wrinkle your nose as I walk past you on a hot, sunny day because my armpits aren't fresh-pear scented, and you may get pissed off that my kid shows up to your school without the full complement of shots, but if you disagree, please just acknowledge my right to make my own choices and do your best to avoid vilifying me for it.

12 comments:

writerhughes said...

Totally up to you to do what you see as best for your family. I think the best answer is a blended one. Countries without vaccines have more disease. I will and do vaccinate my daughter. I watched my brother's children suffer with mumps etc because he did not vaccinate. I am a recyling nut. My husband is LEEDs certified. I don't think there is any singular answer. Good luck!

grassroots08 said...

You got me thinking about all of the bees we have lost over the last three years. I guess those herbicides and grass prays are finally talking their toil. While we worry about the one third loss of bees, get ready for the death rate to escalate in regards to men and boys who spray this toxin without regard for their own health They don't use hats of face masks or protection over other exposed skin areas. I'm afraid we are DUE for a swift awakening soon.

If any of your loved ones are involved in this business, don't hesitate to pass my words along to them. "Find another way to earn a living." I taught landscaping for 25 years and preached this same message, if any one was really listening.

Thanks for sharing. My brother-in-law just bought a large Amish farm in Western , NY and he now has chickens, and bees and soon will be living completely off the land. The windmill will be going up soon. LOL Cheers!

Where eagles fly,
Don (Greywolf)

Elizabeth said...

I couldn't have written any better myself although I'm probably way more obnoxious about these things. You might not know this, but my daughter Sophie began seizing not long after her initial round of vaccinations when she was two or so months old. While I'm not an anti-vaccine zealot, I chose not to vaccinate my boys in the event there is a genetic factor in my daughter's response. Neither of my sons has ever been on an antibiotic and have been far healthier than any other child I know of -- while that, too, might be luck or chance, I think it also has to do with prevention and the supports we've provided them with. In answer to the commenter above, I'd state that it's true we've eradicated some of the most awful diseases known to man through vaccinations. However, I'm not sure whether the ones we've replaced (autoimmune disorders, developmental disabilities, diabetes, seizure disorders, etc.) are a fair price to pay.

Elizabeth said...

Excuse the terrible grammar of my comment above -- I get fired up and wasn't too clear! I meant to suggest that despite the eradication of terrible childhood diseases, the jury is still out on the effects of vaccinations over the long term and whether other, equally as devastating diseases have replaced those that have disappeared.

kario said...

'writerhughes' - thanks for your deference. I appreciate your comment and your willingness to live and let live.

Don - I agree that some of our environmental practices are coming home to roost, and I worry about the people tasked to work with these toxic chemicals. The balance between finding a job that pays and putting yourself in harm's way is not often clear.

Elizabeth - there is so much evidence that disease rates for big illnesses (smallpox, etc.) were on the decline before vaccines, anyway, that I have to wonder... We also choose to use more holistic ways to treat illnesses and let our bodies heal themselves as much as possible. Changing our diets has resulted in my kids being healthier and less susceptible to colds and other 'normal' kid diseases than ever. I choose to believe that what we're doing is the best thing for us. Thanks for getting 'fired up.'

Kaitlyn S. C Hatch said...

"So, as much as possible, I will keep my mouth shut and go about living my life the way I think is best."

Well-put and to be honest, the only thing any of us can do. We are responsible for ourselves only.

May people do their homework. May people make decisions based on their own sense and reasoning.

Astra said...

Sometimes you start small and see where the road takes you. Ditching the deodorant for a more natural one is a good start. Then ... I'll do some more homework and see where it takes me! Great post - thank you!

chris said...

There are no easy answers to these issues. No matter what we do as a massively growing population, we will create a harmful environment to something or someone along the way. Doing what you think is right based on what evidence you've determined to fit your opinions is completely valid and is appreciated.

Dee said...

Dear Kari, . . . my knowledge about all you've explained is abysmal. I haven't read enough to make an informed comment. But I will begin to study now and learn more because you've got me thinking. Thank you.

And trust yourself.

Peace.

brenda said...

I don't think there are any black and white answers, each of us approaches the matter individually. I've not suffered from anything (knock virtual wood) so I've not had the cause to abandon off the shelf products, but over the years I've become focused on cooking naturally and reading labels, etc. Baby steps for me

Daron Henson said...

Very interesting article. I welcome your stance of not subjecting others to your views of which they may not agree. Your personal choice to live a "green" lifestyle is admirable. I would even welcome you sharing your opinion with others as you have done in this article. One point is that the "toxins" you refer to make food products and etc. more available for all through a more abundant supply of these goods. Your opinion may or may not be valid, I would have to do more personal research to form an educated opinion; however please do not shy away from posting such articles. An honest opinion in always welcome.

fullsoulahead.com said...

Spot on. And I was going to leave a comment about how most diseases were firmly already on the bottom of the bell curve on the way out, before vaccines, but you got it in the comments.

Smarty Mc Smarty Pants.

As for the HPV vaccine, the researchers who invented it don't even support it being given to the age group it's being delivered to.

http://sanevax.org/hpv-vaccine-vaers-reports-march-2012/

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