Review by Janet Raloff
This is a fish tale, of sorts. It starts when the author, a San Francisco internist, encounters a surprising number of educated professionals with perplexing, nonspecific symptoms: chronic intermittent upset stomachs, headaches, hypertension, fatigue, trouble concentrating and even hair loss.
Hightower eventually traces the symptoms to diets rich in big fish such as tuna and swordfish, the types that accumulate high concentrations of methylmercury. Her cure: Forgo eating fish for up to a year.
In a 2003 paper in Environmental Health Perspectives, Hightower first outlined her data from her case reports, as well as her frustration at failing to get regulators and policy makers to accept that current fish advisories may not be keeping people safe.