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Gender Bender Chemicals

Scientists are observing with increasing alarm that some very common hormone-mimicking chemicals can have grotesque effects. A widely used herbicide acts as a female hormone and feminizes male animals in the wild. Thus male frogs can have female organs, and some male fish actually produce eggs. In a Florida lake contaminated by these chemicals, male alligators have tiny penises.

These days there is also growing evidence linking this class of chemicals to problems in humans. These include breast cancer, infertility, low sperm counts, genital deformities, early menstruation and even diabetes and obesity.

Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that a congenital defect called hypospadias — a misplacement of the urethra — is now twice as common among newborn boys as it used to be. He suspects endocrine disrupters, so called because they can wreak havoc with the endocrine system that governs hormones.

Endocrine disrupters are everywhere. They’re in thermal receipts that come out of gas pumps and ATMs. They’re in canned foods, cosmetics, plastics and food packaging. Test your blood or urine, and you’ll surely find them there, as well as in human breast milk and in cord blood of newborn babies.

In this campaign year, we are bound to hear endless complaints about excessive government regulation. But here’s an area where scientists are increasingly critical of our government for its failure to tackle Big Chem and regulate endocrine disrupters adequately.

Last month, the Endocrine Society, the leading association of hormone experts, scolded the Food and Drug Administration for its failure to ban bisphenol-A, a common endocrine disruptor known as BPA, from food packaging.

Researchers warn that endocrine disrupters can trigger hormonal changes in the body that may not show up for decades. One called DES, a synthetic form of estrogen, was once routinely given to pregnant women to prevent miscarriage or morning sickness, and it did little harm to the women themselves. But it turned out to cause vaginal cancer and breast cancer decades later in their daughters, so it is now banned.

Scientists have long known the tiniest variations in hormone levels influence fetal development. For example, a female twin is very slightly masculinized if the other twin is a male, because she is exposed to some of his hormones.

Now experts worry that endocrine disrupters have similar effects, acting as hormones and swamping the delicate balance for fetuses in particular. The latest initiative by scholars is a landmark 78-page analysis to be published next month in Endocrine Reviews, the leading publication in the field.

The article was written by a 12-member panel that spent three years reviewing the evidence. It concluded that the nation’s safety system for endocrine disrupters is broken.

“For several well-studied endocrine disrupters, I think it is fair to say that we have enough data to conclude that these chemicals are not safe for human populations,” said Laura Vandenberg, a Tufts University developmental biologist who was the lead writer for the panel.

Worrying new research on the long-term effects of these chemicals is constantly being published. One study found that pregnant women who have higher levels of a common endocrine disruptor, PFOA, are three times as likely to have daughters who grow up to be overweight. Yet PFOA is unavoidable. It is in everything from microwave popcorn bags to carpet-cleaning solutions.

Big Chem says all this is sensationalist science. So far, it has blocked strict regulation in the United States, even as Europe and Canada have adopted tighter controls on endocrine disrupters.

Yes, there are uncertainties. But the scientists who know endocrine disrupters best overwhelmingly are already taking steps to protect their families. John Peterson Myers, chief scientist at Environmental Health Sciences and a co-author of the new analysis, said that his family had stopped buying canned food.

“We don’t microwave in plastic,” he added. “We don’t use pesticides in our house. I refuse receipts whenever I can. My default request at the ATM, known to my bank, is ‘no receipt.’ I never ask for a receipt from a gas station.”I’m taking my cue from the experts, and I wish the Obama administration would as well.

12:05 am – May 05, 2012 — Updated: 12:05 am – May 05, 2012

(Nicholas D. Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize winning-journalist and columnist for The New York Times.)

 

Gender-Bender Chemicals are Turning Boys Into Girls

Sunday, March 14, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/028368_feminization_chemicals.html#ixzz24UiO6BFK

(NaturalNews) The government of Denmark has released a 326-page report affirming that endocrine disrupting chemicals are probably continuing to the birth of fewer males and the “feminization” of existing ones.

The report centers on chemicals like PVC, flame retardants, phthalates, dioxins, PCBs and bisphenol-A, all of which mimic the action of estrogen in the body. The researchers concluded that due to the prevalence of these chemicals, children could easily be exposed to high enough levels to place them at “critical risk” of harm.

The chemicals have been blamed for falling sperm counts among men worldwide, and their full effects remain unknown. A study by researchers at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands, found that male children who had been exposed to PCBs and dioxins while in the womb were more likely to dress up in female clothes and play with dolls than boys who had not been. Other research has documented a connection between prenatal phthalate exposure and “feminization” of male genitals, including smaller penises.

Evidence is increasingly emerging that estrogen mimics might also be responsible for a puzzling phenomenon: fewer boys are being born than ever before. Typically, 106 male children are born for every 100 females in most populations. In recent years, however, this distribution has been shifting in favor of females, with endocrine disruptors a likely culprit.

For example, a Canadian Inuit community living on Lake Huron and surrounded by chemical factories produces two girls for every boy born. Similar phenomena have been observed in contaminated communities in Brazil, Israel, Italy, Taiwan and the Arctic Circle, as well as among workers in Russian pesticide factories.

Many hormone-mimicking chemicals build up in the body and resist environmental degradation, meaning that they are now widely distributed across the planet.

“There is very little, if anything, individuals can do to prevent contamination of themselves and their families,” the environmental group WWF said.

Sources for this story include: www.telegraph.co.uk.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/028368_feminization_chemicals.html#ixzz24UNd7jRx


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