Junkfood Science: Another way we can be convinced we’ve been poisoned

March 02, 2009

Another way we can be convinced we’ve been poisoned

Mercury poisoning was again in the news this past week as actor Jeremy Piven became the focus of a closed-door hearing with the Actors’ Equity Association. He presented his defense against the grievance filed against him in January by the producers of Speed-the-Plow for leaving the production.

The New York Times reported that the actor said he had been scared he might die and believed his symptoms of fatigue and loss of mental focus had been due to being poisoned by mercury from sushi. The paper sadly reported he’d even had his mercury fillings removed, fearing for his health.

Mercury fears have become as ubiquitous as mercury itself, it seems, and truly frightening people. Many victims are being led to believe that they have mercury poisoning through mercury tests that report “high” levels. A study by researchers from Harvard Medical School recently cautioned consumers about the commercial tests offered at clinics and spas, after they’d found that none of the people labeled as mercury toxic in these lab tests had actual evidence of mercury toxicity.

Writing for Quackwatch, Dr. Stephen Barrett, M.D., recently explained how the "Urine Toxic Metals" test is used to defraud people into thinking they have dangerously high levels of mercury, lead and other heavy metals, when they don’t. A patient shared the Urine Toxic Metals results he’d received from a Chicago-based laboratory catering to nontraditional practitioners. The report classified the man’s lead and mercury levels as elevated because they were twice the upper limit of the lab’s reference levels, but Dr. Barrett explained the trick and “why provoked testing is a scam.”

Protecting consumers and careers may begin with a reminder that when we’re being led to feel afraid, that’s our sign our emotions are being manipulated. It’s important to get objective second opinions and never make a health decision based on a single lab test. Don’t let a number scare you!

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