Compiled by Hwaa Irfan
If you are one those people whose lifestyle means that one doesn’t think about what one eats are the packaging that surrounds the goods that one buys, or the possessions one believes one has to have, or the way in which one cleans one’s home, or where one swims, think again!
Since 1998, slowly but surely, reports have been coming out about the things we have learnt to take for granted as the essentials of modern life. These “things” appear harmless, and there seems to be no known cure. We might have been “raised” on these “things” because our parents just did not know, but if you have children or are looking forward to having children, now more than ever it is a time to act.
The “things” I refer to are popularly known as “gender benders,” and here I am not referring to cross dressing or the controversial mental health illness Gender Identity Disorder, but it may well be contributing factor. What I am referring to are commonly used chemicals that upset the normal functioning of our endocrine system.
Our endocrine system consists of glands that are located vertically at the center of the body from the groins to the head. These glands produce and excrete chemicals we know as hormones that are essential to the normal functioning of our bodies directly into the blood stream. Through hormones, the endocrine system governs the slow processes of our body, unlike the nervous system which governs the fast processes. The endocrine system regulates moods, growth, tissue function, metabolism (the physical and chemical processes of the body), sexual function, and reproduction using 20 major hormones, and that involves the:
• Reproductive glands (including ovaries and testes) – responsible for the secretion of sex hormones.
• Adrenal glands – above the kidneys secretes hormones concerned with fight or flight = stress, and countering inflammation.
• The pancreas – is a part of the digestive system, and the endocrine system. In the endocrine system the pancreas is involved in the production of insulin.
• Parathyroids – located under the thyroid controls the calcium supply of the body
• Thyroids – regulates metabolism, body temperature and weight.
• The pineal body – at the center of the brain secretes a hormone that helps to promote sleep, depresses activity of the gonads, and affects activity of the thyroid and adrenal cortex.
• The pituitary gland – located between the optic nerves, controls the reproductive, and adrenal glands. It is critical in our ability to respond to the environment.
• The hypothalamus – the master gland responsible for many hormones including those that govern the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, birth, lactation, and those that maintain body water content by preventing excess loss of water through the kidneys, and pain threshold level.
So can you imagine what havoc can take place in the body if one, some, or none of the above is allowed to function properly? When this happens, the endocrine system is disrupted, and the gender benders referred to here are called endocrine disruptors.
The endocrine disruptors referred to here are man-made and include:
DDT , metabolite, p,p-DDE, linuron, vinclozolin, procymidone, prochloraz – These are phthalates that can lead to incomplete testicular descent in fetuses. Phthalates are found in vinyl flooring, detergents, automotive plastics, soap, shampoo, deodorants, fragrances, hair spray, nail polish, plastic bags, food packaging, garden hoses, inflatable toys, blood-storage bags, and intravenous medical tubing.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) — found in grease- and water-resistant coatings like Teflon and Gore-Tex.
Organochlorine — pesticides, which persist in the environment
Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) – — found in detergents, emulsifiers, wetting agents, defoaming agents, pulp and paper and textile processing.
Bovine growth hormones commonly added to commercial dairy has been implicated
GM Soy products, which are loaded with hormone-like substances.
MSG — Monosodium glutamate, a food additive that’s been linked to reduced fertility.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers – found in flame retardants has a de-masculinizing affect biologically
Fluoride — This chemical in the U.S. water supply has been linked to lower fertility rates, hormone disruption and low sperm counts.
Endcrine disruptors were introduced into our environment in:
1929: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
1930s: “Nerve gases” is developed in Germany and later used by the Nazis in WWII; these later became the basis for pesticides
1938: DDT is first synthesized and manufactured. DES, the first synthetic estrogenic compound, is produced
1940—1945: First widespread use of synthetic chemicals worldwide and widespread exposure to living organisms
1940s—1950s: First human generation exposed to synthetic chemicals in infancy
1940s—1970s: DES is in widespread use during pregnancy; first human generations are born after being exposed to synthetic estrogenic chemicals, pesticides, and other industrial pollutants (POPS) in the womb accumulates
1970s—2000: Health problems with DES children become manifest
1970s—1990s: First human generation to have been exposed to POPs in the womb is now reaching reproductive age when hormone disruptions become more pronounced and noticeable
2000: Second generation DES sons and daughters are now old enough for adverse health effects to be manifest
In a chemTrust study entitled: Effects of Pollutants on the Reproductive Health of Male Vertebrae Wildlife – Males Under Threat, which looked at the male species in the animal kingdom and human. They found in the freshwaters of the U.K., estrogen from the natural female hormone, and the contraceptive pill which came from sewage as well as nonylphenol, an industrial chemical. Vittelogenin, VTG (an egg protein produced by females) is a sign of a process of feminization, and has been found in fresh water fish in Europe, Australia, North America, Japan, and Africa. They even found VTG production taking place in male fish from the North Sea, Irish Sea, the English Channel, estuaries in the U.K., Denmark, Japan, the U.S., and the Mediterranean. Male fish with intersex organs have been found, and they include:
Bream – Chub – Gudgeon – Perch – White perch – Stickleback – Shovel-nosed sturgeon – Sharptooth catfish – Lake whitfish, and small mouth bass.
Intersex fish, that is fish possessing both ovaries and testes have been found in the Seine in France (flounder), the southern Baltic in Germany (flounder), Tokyo (flounder), the Mediterranean (swordfish), South Africa (sharptooth catfish), the Potomac River (small mouth bass), the St. Lawrence River, Quebec (lake whitefish), and polluted areas of Lake Ontario.
Male amphibians have been found to be producing VTG. In polluted areas like the turtle. Testosterone levels were found to be low in toads living in agricultural areas unlike those from urban areas, and they were found to also have high concentration of steroids. Abnormalities have been found in alligators from Lake Apopka, Florida. They have been found to have estrogen levels higher than testosterone, small phallus, abnormal testes in males, and embryo mortality in females.
Abnormal VTG production has been taking place in male birds, which have resulted in deformities of the reproductive tract, embryonic mortality in females, reduced reproduction, thin shells, and poor parenting behavior. Male American robins exposed to high levels of DDT from the orchards in British Columbia, had altered brain development.
The further up the food chain one goes, the greater the accumulative effect. States the report:
“…part of the mother’s body burden of man-made chemicals is transferred to the offspring in the womb and during suckling”.
• In otters and/or mink: reduced penile bone length; smaller testes and impaired reproduction.
• In seals and impaired reproduction
• In polar bears: intersex features and deformed genitals; reduced testes and baculum length; reduced testosterone levels in adult males; and reduced cub survival.
• In black bears: undescended testes.
• In deer: antler deformities; undescended testes; and testicular abnormalities, including cells predictive of testicular cancer.
In the U.K. two nationwide surveys in 2003 found anti-androgen properties in 43 sewage treatment plants. One such anti-androgen is flutamide, which as an anti-androgen has a de-masculinizing effect, and affects the ability to reproduce. Bisphenol A, octylphenol, and nonylphenol have been found in British freshwater, and these man-made chemicals have the effect of the female hormone estrogen.
“Moreover, in many studies these disorders or demasculinization effects have been associated with exposure to certain contaminants or sex hormone disrupting chemicals in humans rapid pace of the increase of human male reproductive disorders indicates an environmental cause, as do studies following baby boys born to immigrants who take on the same risk for testicular cancer, as the offspring of residents born in that country”
In New South Wales, Australia, hormones, steroids and antibiotics have been found in the sewage according to the Nature Conservation Council which commented:
“These chemicals and compounds are passed through the human body in varying concentrations and follow the usual path through the sewage treatment process.”
“The main characteristic of these compounds and chemicals is that they do not break down or dissolve once they enter a waterway.”
Already, studies are finding the evidence within humans, as in the U.S. baby boys whose mothers were exposed to a high level of chemicals whilst pregnant, are being born with smaller penises, and intersex organs. The University of Rochester, New York have experienced boys born to mothers who have a high level of phthalates, and that these boys are more likely to have smaller penises, undescended testicles, a shorter distance between the anus and genitalia. Rotterdam Erasmus University found boys whose mothers were exposed to PCB’s, and grew up with a preference for playing with dolls. The ratio of 106 boys to 100 girls being born is decreasing, as more girls than boys are being born in the U.S. and Japan. Studies involving 20 countries show the sperm count has fallen over the past 50 years i.e. from 150 million per milliliter of sperm fluid – 60 million.
Dr. Mercola suggests the following measures in order to reduce the risks:
•As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic foods to reduce your exposure to pesticides and fertilizers.
• Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified fish or krill oil, or eat fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity.
• Avoid artificial food additives of all kinds, including artificial sweeteners and MSG.
• Avoid processed foods — remember that they’re processed with chemicals!
• Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.
• Have your tap water tested and, if contaminants are found, install an appropriate water filter on all your faucets (even those in your shower or bath).
• Only use natural cleaning products in your home.
• Switch over to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. The Environmental Working Group has a great safety guide to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
• Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances.
• Throw out your Teflon pots and pans.
• When redoing your home, look for “green,” toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings.
• Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric.
‘Gender-bender’ Threat in Sewage http://www.waterindustry.org/Water-Facts/hormones.htm
Lean, G. “It’s Official: Men Really are the Weaker Sex” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/its-official-men-really-are-the-weaker-sex-1055688.html
Vilet, E. L. Gender Benders & Endocrine Disruptors around You. http://www.herplace.com/hormone-info/gender-benders.htm