Hello, Imrev and thanks so much for the comment.
If Jamie comes by he can answer the comments in regards to the article. So please take this as my own reactions to your good points and not as me putting any words in Jamie's mouth.
There is one very important point that must be considered when speaking of ANY toxins, whether natural toxins we can expect to find in organic foods or "synthetic" toxins.
But before I bring up that point I'd like to talk about the word toxin itself. It's always a good idea to define our terms. Colloquially, we use the word toxin to describe any bad chemcial that gets into your body and interacts with the body's cells in a negative way, causing damage. A poison could be thought up as a very bad toxin that does a great deal of damage very quickly or kills you outright very quickly. So lets assume by the word toxin we mean chemicals that cause slow damage.
Most people are probably not aware that in biology a toxin is a bit more specific. That is, they are damaging chemicals or poisons that are produced IN NATURE BY BIOLOGICAL MEANS.
Even in the case of insecticides like DDT, which the article mentioned, these are sill organic chemicals. DDT for instance, is an organochloride. So even though we talk about these things being synthesized or isolated they are still produced via chemical reactions involving organic compounds that…happen in nature. We just ramp it up and produce chemicals in large quantities that only happen very rarely "by themselves". There are many examples of these types of toxins.
The biological toxins that plants produce to defend themselves or for whatever reason and the organic pollutants that we "produce" and then introduce into the environment artificially…they are all NATURAL.
So, to me, the idea that there is a distinct difference between the "natural toxins that our bodies have dealt with forever" and new toxins that we have introduced more recently doesn't hold much weight. A toxin is a toxin is a toxin. What matters is 1)Just how much damage it can do and how quickly. 2) How much does it build up in the body..like you spoke of the liver, but also the kidneys, the skin, etc…can the body get rid of it through some process and how quickly can the body do that and 3) How much of it are we exposed to?
Since there are SOOO very many toxic chemicals in nature we don't know enough about them to say which of those points is more important. It's overwhelming. We can definitely say that pesticides like DDT are REALLY harmful. But we can also say that exposure to this is no where near on the level of various other toxins we are exposed to.
Okay, so now to the point I mentioned earlier.
I tried to allude to this point when I brought up the thing about domesticated rats living unusually long life-spans (I think "unusually is a better word than the word I used: unnaturally, which is perhaps meaningless).
And you yourself mentioned it when you talked about humans living very long lifetimes into the future. The point is that toxins, no matter where they come from, if they don't kill you or devestate you in a short while as in a "poison" take time to do their damage. And many of them that would be harmless at small amounts take time to build up to "toxic levels".
Lifespans in well developed, industrialized nations have increased DRAMATICALLY in a relatively short period of time. In fact, in the United States, the average lifespan increased by more than 30 years in the 1900's alone. That is HUGE. From 1900 to 2000, according to the US Census data, life expectation increased from about 43 years to 77 years (all races, male and female, averaged together).
You talked about toxins that we've dealt with for 100,000 years. Well, although some people have always lived long lives, and in different periods and different places life-expectancy changed thoughout history, I think we can safely say that from the Paleolithic through to the early 20th century, forty was a "ripe old age".
That means, on average, which means that some lived longer..say to sixty or so and some lived much shorter lives…say to 22 or 23.
And now average is about 65 for the whole world, saying nothing of the more advanced nations.
"Toxins" that were ingested or absorbed naturally through food or what have you, to someone with a life expectancy of 40..are a moot point. More likely for a coal miner to die from black lung or a cave in than from "toxins". So if you are getting me, toxins take time to do their work and the longer we live the more we get to see that work come to fruition. All the accumulated damage we get as we grow old is something only the very lucky got to see once upon a time.
Also, you have to consider the monumental difference between the sudden and world altering "invention" of agriculture versus how humans lived for thousandns and thousand of years before agriculture (and agriculture did come about "suddenly" in historical terms).
So we are talking about coffee and other plants that we consume that may contain toxins that can build up in our bodies and do slow damage. Before agriculture there was never a "surplus" of any one food…or at least very rarely. There is simply no comparison between having your pantry stocked with coffee ALL THE TIME, no matter the season, versus, say, eating a fruit ONLY when that fruit is in season because somebody across the world isn't growing it and shipping it to your grocery store.
Not to mention all the other "staples" that we consume in ridiculous quantities. So the three of us are talking about drinking our coffee, and we probably do it every single day and we drink, say, at least 2 cups, which are really mugs, and maybe more on some days. Evolution, has not "prepared our bodies" to deal with that. We are ingesting much higher quantities of toxic chemicals from that than we are from "modern toxins" and both groups of toxins, they are not really "different" in the since of one being natural and one not. All chemicals are natural in that they occur in nature. We can not make, as human beings, supernatural things!
Evolution has very little to do with dealing with the modern world. Adaptation does.