Toxic Cocktail by Barbara Demeneix

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Barbara Demeneix is a Professor and Head of Department in the Natural History Museum, Paris, France. She is the author of Toxic Cocktail: How Chemical Pollution Is Poisoning Our Brains, a health book released in February 2017. Learn more about the author, her book, as well as ratings and reviews on the latter.

Barbara Demeneix was born in 1949. A dual British-French national, she has studied and taught in Europe, Africa and North America. She obtained her Bachelor of Science (B.Sc. Hons) at the University of Wales and an M.Sc. at the University of Clermont-Ferrand (France). She completed her PhD in endocrinology and physiology at the University of Calgary (Canada) in 1977 as well as her Doctorat d’Etat (D.Sc.) at the University Paris VI in 1983.

A biologist and endocrinologist, she is an internationally recognised expert on both thyroid function and on the problem of endocrine disruption, notably by chemicals affecting thyroid hormone function.

The author of over 150 scientific publications, she has coordinated large-scale European projects on different aspects of endocrine research, aging and gene function.

Barbara has received numerous awards for her work, notably the CNRS Medal for Innovation in 2014 and the Mentorship Award for 2011 from the journal Nature.

She has been active in many Europe-wide projects, notably co-ordinating, from November, CRESCENDO, a FP6 EU Integrated Project on Nuclear Receptors in Development and Aging. Currently, she coordinates SWITCHBOX a FP7 EU Collaborative Project ( on maintaining health in old age through homeostasis. She is also active with the OECD representing France on different committees addressing endocrine disruption.

In 2014 Barbara Demeneix was promoted to ‘Officer’ of the French Legion d’Honneur by the French government for her scientific achievements, having been appointed ‘Chevalier’ in 2004.

Today, let’s talk about her health book, Toxic Cocktail: How Chemical Pollution Is Poisoning Our Brains, which was published in February 2017.


In today’s world, everyone carries a toxic load of dozens of industrially produced chemicals in their bloodstream. Not only do these adversely affect the health of adults and children, but also, and more worryingly, they damage the development of unborn infants. The amniotic fluid of pregnant women has been found to contain a variety of chemicals, such as pesticides, plasticizers, disinfectant products, flame-retardants, surfactants and UV filters, many of which interfere with fetal physiology, especially thyroid hormone action. Thyroid hormone is vital for brain development, particularly for the fetus during pregnancy and for toddlers. In fact, children born to women who lack this thyroid hormone (or who are unwittingly exposed to thyroid-disrupting chemicals) have lower IQs and more neurodevelopmental problems.

Evolution of the human brain has involved multiple changes and processes dependent on thyroid hormone. The urgent question thus arises: Is chemical pollution poisoning brain development and reversing evolution’s most outstanding achievement: the human brain? And if so, as this book convincingly illuminates, what can be done about it both collectively and individually? Toxic Cocktail provides a clear view of how many environmental chemicals interfere with brain development. As a result, this book looks at how we define and test IQ, the evidence for IQ loss, and how chemical pollution and thyroid hormone disruption can be actors in this process, as well as increasing neurodevelopmental disease risk.






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