Hair Test Interpretation: Finding Hidden Toxicities

by Andrew Hall Cutler, PhD, PE

© 2004, 2008, 2009 Andrew Hall Cutler

About the book

Read some excerpts from the book:

Table of contents




Reasons to check for HM


Back cover copy

Why worry about HM


How to order the book






Medical conditions Heavy Metals cause

Developmental disorders


Other books of interest (vaccines cancer autism hormone balance etc)


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Excerpt from the book:

What Textbooks say about Cancer    

Because the dominant belief in medicine is that toxicity problems are an occupational hazard, most research on metals causing cancer (and other diseases) has been performed on people exposed in the workplace.  Regardless of where toxic metals come from, if they get into someone’s body they behave however they are going to behave.  The real issue is whether the metals are there, and one way to determine that is a hair test.

One would expect toxicology books to mention heavy metals and cancer if the association is well known, and in fact they do.  In Clinical Toxicology, by Ford, first edition (2001), page 718:

 “Inorganic arsenic is a recognized human carcinogen, primarily of the respiratory tract and skin (International Agency for Research on Cancer group 1 and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency group A).”

Textbooks on cancer would be expected to have significant coverage of any links between heavy metals and cancer, and they do. Perusing Clinical Oncology  by Abeloff, second edition (2000),  we find much useful information.

Page 289:  “Medicinal use of inorganic arsenic was associated with skin cancers in the early 20th century. More recently, excess skin cancer has been observed in populations exposed to arsenic-contaminated drinking water.”


 “Reports of skin and lung cancers among vineyard workers with exposure to arsenic fungicides and pesticides appeared during the late 1950s.”


Page 290:  “Elevated risk of prostate and lung cancer among workers exposed to cadmium has been reported.”


 “Experimental investigations indicate that the hexavalent salts of chromium are highly carcinogenic, whereas trivalent chromium is not carcinogenic.”

With mainstream medicine’s focus on occupational exposure which usually happens by breathing dust at work we would expect to find this topic covered in relevant texts if an association between heavy metals and cancer was believed to be important.  In fact, the Textbook of Respiratory Medicine by Murray and Nadel, third edition (2000) has a lot to say on this topic: 

 (page 1400) “Occupational exposure to inorganic arsenic in copper smelting causes a 2- to 14-fold increase in respiratory cancer risk.”

(P 1401) “Hexavalent chromium compounds are established human carcinogens.”


 “The increased lung cancer risk prevalent in nickel refinery workers was initially attributed to exposure to metallic nickel and nickel carbonyl, which are carcinogenic in animals.  However, subsequent epidemiologic evidence has suggested that exposure to combinations of nickel sulfides and oxides encountered in the refining industry increases lung cancer risk.”

(page 1402):  “Two cohort mortality studies have reported a significant excess of lung cancer associated with exposure to beryllium.”

 (page 1403):  “Follow-up from a cohort study of cadmium smelter workers reported a relative risk of 1.49 not explainable by smoking.” (The risk is for lung cancer).

The role of heavy metals in causing cancer is so well known that basic medical texts covering internal medicine and pathology also discuss it.

In table 193-2 of Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 21st edition (2000) arsenic, chromium and nickel are listed as being carcinogenic.

Table 8-3 on page 274 of Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease, by Cotran, Kumar and Collins, sixth edition (1999) lists arsenic and arsenic compounds as causing lung and skin cancer as well as hemangiosarcoma1, beryllium and its compounds as causing lung cancer, cadmium and its compounds as causing prostate cancer,  chromium and its compounds as causing lung cancer, as well as nickel and its compounds as causing lung and nasal cancer.

Checking the Textbook of Natural Medicine by Pizzorno and Murray, second edition (1999) we find on page 168:

 “One study which evaluated bladder cancer mortality over a 5-year period in 26 counties in the US, found that bladder cancer was significantly higher in counties with documented arsenic exposure.”

In addition to excessive levels of toxic elements being carcinogenic, inadequate levels of certain nutrient elements may also increase the risk of cancer.  For example, in Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease by Feldman, seventh edition (2002), the authors state that low dietary selenium can cause colon cancer.  Low levels of selenium (and other relevant nutrient elements) may be detected by a hair test as long as mineral transport is normal and orderly.

There is an extremely large amount of journal literature on the topic of what causes cancer.  The most useful study is Environmental and Heritable Factors in the Causation of Cancer: Analyses of Cohorts of Twins from Sweden, Denmark and Finland, by Lichtenstein et al., New England Journal of Medicine, volume 343, number 2, pages 78-85 (2000).

 “Inherited Genetic factors make a minor contribution to susceptibility of most types of neoplasms. This finding indicates that the environment has the principal role in causing sporadic cancer.”


 “We conclude that the overwhelming contributor to the causation of cancer in the population of twins that we studied was the environment.”


If you go from the research literature to the clinics of health care providers who actually do screen for heavy metal problems in cancer patients and look over the tests it is quite apparent that mercury and lead show up in a lot of these people in addition to arsenic, nickel and chromium. 

Heavy metal exposure is one risk factor that can be easily screened for with a hair test, and for which there are effective means of removing the cancer causing material from the body if it is found.

1)      a malignant tumor derived from blood vessel cells

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