What we don’t know is killing us…part 1

I originally wrote this back in 2009 and I’m so excited I finally get to share it with the world!  This is just part one since the write up is pretty lengthy.  I will continue with part two which will list 6 of the most widely used, known and toxic chemicals that we don’t know are killing us.  Stay tuned!

I came across this article in the current issue of Men’s Health magazine (December 2009). I do have to admit I do like this magazine for it’s articles, which don’t always apply to men. I was astounded and taken back by this article and felt like I had to share it with everyone I knew. What we don’t know, is killing us. The article in Men’s Health is originally titled “The Lost Boys of Aamjiwnaang” and written by Melody Petersen. It is pretty lengthy, so I’ve summed it up for you below. Even my summary is lengthy, but every bit of information is so vital, so don’t miss a word!
Ironically after reading this article, I found a related article in the current issue of Consumer Reports magazine (December 2009). Again, I don’t usually purchase this magazine but was interested to find out about the best rated flat screen televisions. To my surprise, I came across this article that discusses concerns over a wide range of the use of the chemical BPA in our canned goods such as soups, juices, fruits and even baby formula! Thank you for taking the time to read my summary. I hope you will find it as interesting, appalling and informative as I have.

On an Indian reserve in Southern Ontario, for the past 15 years, fewer and fewer boys are being born among population (two girls for every boy to be exact). The probably cause: Industrial chemical pollution from nearby factories. The scary part is that these are chemicals that every one of us encounter every day and may currently lingering in our own—and even our children’s—bodies.
Scientists have found a similar trend in the United States, as in Canada. In the US between 1970 and 2002, an estimated 135,000 fewer boys were born than expected. In Japan, and estimated 127,000 fewer boys were born than expected between 1970 and 1999.
Researchers find this decline to be statistically significant and reason for serious concern. Their concerns were traced back to more and more industrial chemicals permeating rivers, lakes, farmland soil and a multitude of consumer products used by each and every one of us, every day.
Researchers believe that the synthetic industrious chemicals being inadvertently consumed by humans may be causing changes at the time of conception, making it more difficult for boys to survive from the get go. A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 described the declining proportion of male births in the US, Canada and several other industrialized nations. The report cited at least 9 studies that had found that parents exposed to various industrious chemicals gave birth to fewer sons. The authors theorized that environmental chemicals could be damaging sperm cells carrying the Y chromosome responsible for the male child.
Scientists can’t explain exactly why certain industrious chemicals may be leading to fewer males, however a large growing number of studies show that a host of many chemicals work like human hormones, the body’s messengers. These chemicals are often referred to as “Endocrine Disruptors” because they interfere with many hormone producing organs in both males and females. Some chemicals (such as PCB-Polychlorinated Biphenyls-used for dozens of industrious reasons because of its ability to resist heat) act like the female hormone estrogen. Once the PCB is introduced into the body, it has the ability to trick cells into behaving like natural estrogen. Other industrious chemicals can work to block testosterone and other sex hormones, or even work together to block both.

  This year, the Endocrine Society, a scientific group that studies hormones, warned in a 50 page statement that endocrine disrupting chemicals are “a significant concern to public health.” The chemicals could impact male and female reproduction, cause certain cancers and lead to many other health problems, the group said.
“Reproductive problems—perhaps especially in men—are riding,” says R. Thomas Zoeller, Ph.D., professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “The epidemiological work that focused on men’s reproductive health and exposures to environmental chemicals indicate that a significant issue is the exposure of the male fetus to these chemicals through the mother.” He adds that he believes that the theory that chemical pollution in the US, Canada and other industrious countries was leading to fewer boys is a “Plausible” one.
The major problem endocrine disruptors named by the society include industrial solvents such as PCB’s, plastics, and plasticizers, such as Bisphenol-A (BPA), and phthalates, certain pesticides, fungicides and prescription drugs. Even low doses of some of these synthetic chemicals have been shown to have a feminizing effect on laboratory animals.
When biologists exposed frogs to water laced with varying amounts of a weed killer called Atrazine, they found that 20 percent of the frogs became hermaphrodites with both testes and ovaries or grew extra testes. Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the US. Even frogs that were exposed to Atrazine levels far lower than level that the US government accepts as safe in our drinking water—still had sexual deformities. In the US, Atrazine is sprayed on corn and sugar-cane crops and has been found in water outside the farming communities that grow these crops with use of this chemical. The European Union has banned the use of Atrazine; the US Environmental Protection Agency is evaluating the need for new restrictions.
US Scientists are also finding many other sexual deformities in many species in the wild, including green frogs in Connecticut ponds, smallmouth bass in the Potomac River, otters in the Columbia River, alligators in Florida and whitetail bucks, making it harder and harder for them to reproduce. Deformities include, shorter penile bones and smaller, undersized and misaligned testicles. And it doesn’t just stop with animals. The issue is especially important to men because the effects of these endocrine disruptors appear to go far beyond determining the sex of their children. Some studies suggest that they can lower sperm count and cause numerous birth defects. Scientists also think estrogen-mimicking chemicals may be linked to the increase in testicular cancer. The rate of this type of cancer has been increasing since the 1950’s; it’s now 50 percent higher than it was in 1975 and it is now the most commonly diagnosed malignancy among men ages 15-34. Genetic factors alone can’t be blamed. It is likely that some type of environmental or lifestyle factors are involved. In one fascinating Swedish study, researchers determined that men who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer did not have elevated levels of industrialized chemicals in their body. When they tested the mothers of these men, they found that their mothers had higher levels of these chemicals in their blood than mothers of men who did not have cancer. The theory is that these men had these cancer cells with them since they were born, passed on from their father.
When the male fetus begins to produce testosterone around the 8th week, gender differentiation occurs. Add a hormone-altering chemical to the mix and that whole process may be confused. Genes may mutate and this mutation is twice as likely to happen on a male’s Y chromosome than a female X chromosome. Many of these disruptors are stored in the body’s fat cells and circulate during pregnancy as a woman’s fat redistributes under hormonal instructions. In my next post, I will list six of the dozens of toxins that threaten you and any sons or grandsons you might hope to have some day, so stay tuned and thank you for reading!

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2 thoughts on “What we don’t know is killing us…part 1

  1. Pingback: What we don’t know is killing us…Part 2 | The Going Green Guide

  2. Very interesting, ive also ready that the use of disposable diapers lowers mens sperm count. They seem to be doomed from the beginning :/

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