Life, as we know it, is changing on this planet. As a
matter of fact, our lifestyles, diets and environment have changed more in the
past 50 years than they had in the previous 1000 years. But how does this affect
us? As in all scientific studies, we look to the animal
kingdom for answers. Since environmental changes affect the smallest creatures
first, we start with them. Note the following research.
atrazine, is the most common weed-killer in America and is also used in 80 other
countries around the world. It shows up in practically every major waterway in
the U.S. A recent study from the University of California, Berkeley found that
atrazine is mutating and eliminating amphibian populations in the U.S. and
probably the world.
The U.S. Geological Survey recently tested 139 streams
in 30 different states. It found organic wastewater contaminants (OWCs) in 80%
of the streams. The most common contaminants were plant and animal steroids,
insect repellents, stimulants such as caffeine, household disinfectants, fire
retardants, and detergents. There was an average of seven contaminants in each
stream, and some had as many as 38. [Environ Sci Technol 02;36(6):1202-11]
Herbicide and pesticide runoff obviously contributes to
this contamination, but other sources are birth control pills, hormone
replacement therapy drugs, and other medications that are released by human
urine and fecal material.
Sex Organ Changes
The above study
didn't get too much publicity, in part because most of the levels of these
contaminants were allowed by current drinking water guidelines. Unfortunately,
studies have shown that mutations and sex organ changes in animals still occur
even at levels far below what we allow in our drinking water supplies.
For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
allows atrazine levels of 3 parts per billion (ppb) in our drinking water.
Tyrone Hayes of the University of California, Berkeley found that when tadpoles
were exposed to atrazine levels of only 0.1 ppb they developed extra testes, or
even ovaries. Atrazine promotes the conversion of testosterone to estrogen,
which explains why male frogs often developed both male and female sexual
organs. Also, when adult frogs were exposed to these low levels they developed
smaller larynxes and had only one-tenth the testosterone level of unexposed
frogs. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 02;99(8):5476-80]
In other studies, researchers found that reproduction
was disrupted in female birds that were exposed to estrogen at levels now
commonly found in the wild. Finches exposed to estrogen produced fewer eggs and
had more fragile shells. Numbers of hatchlings fell dramatically and the
newborns had malformed oviducts. [Horm Behav 02;41(2):236-41]
When you begin to read the details of these studies and
talk with the researchers, the picture that emerges is like something out of a
horror movie: hermaphrodite frogs, alligators born with shrunken penises, frogs
with extra legs and duplicate sets of sex organs, male fish producing the yolk
protein normally produced only by females, female birds with brain formations
that cause them to sing like male birds--and the list goes on and on.
Most of this information is not new. We first began to
notice environmental hormone exposure in the animal population about 15 years
ago. Even then it was scary.
Small Creatures Too
As we move up
the food chain, we have discovered that the changes in our environment are also
affecting our children. Due to our ever increasing use of estrogen and
estrogen-like compounds, puberty is occurring earlier and earlier. The effect on
girls has been known for some time, now a new study is showing similar results
The last analysis found that the average age of boys
developing pubic hair was 12 years of age in Caucasians, 12.3 years of age in
Mexican-Americans, and 11.2 years in African-Americans. These ages are roughly
1/2 year earlier than what previous studies had shown.
While these figures represent the "average"
ages, a recent study, from the University of North Carolina, found that 21% of
black individuals had developed pubic hair between the ages of nine and 10,
compared to only 4.3% of the white boys and only 3.3% of the Mexican-American
boys. [Arch Pediatr Adolese Med 01;155(9):988- 9]
We are Not
adults, no one has really looked at the situation that closely. However, we do
know that miscarriages are becoming more common, fertility levels are dropping,
increasing testosterone levels in the elderly have become commonplace, and
studies have shown that our increased exposure to estrogen and estrogen-like
compounds has increased the incidence of both breast and testicular cancers.
It may be just a matter of time before these
contaminants are linked to increased childhood cancers, deformities, depression,
obesity, and perhaps a long list of other heath problems.
Also not many studies have taken into account the
cumulative effect of one's exposure to mixtures of these compounds. Like the
atrazine study mentioned earlier, most studies focus on a single contaminant. In
real-life, your exposure is more than likely to dozens of estrogen-like
compounds from various sources. In the water survey mentioned earlier, some
waterways had as many as 38 different contaminants, yet all fell within the safe
drinking limits set by the EPA. What about exposure from other sources?
If you are: drinking tap water, on birth control or
hormone-replacement-therapy, microwaving any of your food in plastic containers,
using pesticides or herbicides, having your house routinely sprayed for insects,
using plastic food wrap, consuming soy supplements or unfermented soy foods, or
using sunscreen, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to know your true
Surprisingly, while the FDA seems obsessed with keeping
every trace of hormones out of natural products (for instance, glandular
products used for restoring endocrine function), it doesn't seem concerned about
abuse, overuse, or overexposure from other sources.
mid-1990s, Dr. Chandra Tiwary at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas
contacted the FDA with concerns about various hair products that contain
estrogen. The FDA wasn't interested. A few years later Dr. Tiwary published his
findings, which again received very little publicity.
Dr. Tiwary reported on the results of four
African-American girls age 1 to 8 years that developed breasts or pubic hair 2
to 24 months after starting to use estrogen or placenta-containing hair
products. When the use of these products was stopped, the development of breasts
and pubic hair also ceased. [Clin Pediatr 98;37(12):733-9]
To determine the scope of the problem, Dr. Tiwary later
surveyed different racial groups that used the pediatric clinics at military
medical facilities. He was the chief of pediatric endocrinology at Brooke Army
Medical Center at the time.
Among the 521 individuals who responded to his survey,
he discovered that 64% of the African-Americans and 6.9% of the whites used hair
products containing hormone and/or placenta. Additionally, 55.5% of the parents
who used these products also used them on their children, and another 5.5% of
the children had these products used on them by their barber or hairstylist.
[Mil Med 97;162(4):252-6]
Although these findings were reported several years
ago, placenta- and hormone-containing hair and facial products are still on the
market today and still being used on children. There's no question that these
products contain varying levels of estrogen and no question that these hormones
can be absorbed easily through the skin. They become even more bio-available
after the skin has been exposed to hot or warm water and the pores are open --
exactly what happens during a shampoo.
Make sure your
water supply is as clean and pure as possible. Also check the labels of your
shampoos, hair conditioners, and skin and facial creams to see if they contain
placenta, a common source of estrogen in these products. Some may list estrogen,
estriol, estradiol, or natural hormones as an ingredient. If you are uncertain
about a product's ingredients, contact the manufacturer for specifics.
Placenta has been touted for years as a rejuvenator and
wrinkle remover. Raw placentas are generally obtained from slaughtered cattle or
sheep and then added to various beauty products. There are dozens of these
products on the market. Most of them are marketed to African-Americans.
What's in Store for
researching this topic one can't help but to wonder what is in store for
humanity. Have we been so seduced by the latest and greatest medical/hi-tech
promises that we have abandoned all common sense? Or are we uninformed
participants in some bizarre medical experiment? Can we not see changes that are
so dramatic, they are literally transforming our bodies right before our eyes?
The more research I do, the more convinced I become that future generations will
look back at this time in history with shock and amazement.
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