Estrogen-Mimicking Chemicals Strongly Distort Hormone Action
Many parents are alarmed when their 6 or 7 year old daughter starts puberty. I share that concern, but it is so prevalent that it is now considered “normal” for an African-American girl to start puberty at age 6, and 7 or 8 is now considered normal for girls of other ethnicity. Menstruation in 2nd or 3rd grade, while not the norm, is now a possibility and considered “normal”.
Why this is considered “normal” has to do with the population bell curve. When 2 standard deviations on either side of the mean are taken as normal and the entire process has shifted to younger and younger ages, what is now considered normal is based on that shift. As a pediatrician for the past 25 years, I have had to come to terms with this. The endocrinologists (specialists who are experts on hormones) were being flooded with referrals for these young girls who were basically normal but were starting puberty early. There was nothing they could really do. I often wondered if the hormones used in the dairy industry (BGH- Bovine Growth Hormone) were part of the cause. They may be. I would definitely drink organic (hormone-free) milk if I was having my children drink milk. Certain pesticides can also have an estrogen effect.
A possible cause of even greater concern is the estrogen effect of the powerful plastic chemicals BPA (Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S) and the industrial solvent nonylphenol. In the link below, I provide a summary/ news release on important research results of a study sponsored by the NIH and the Passport Foundation, released March 28th, 2013. This study looked at the effects in the real world of more than one exposure at a time. They found that these chemicals worked together to have a powerful effect on estrogen and its important signals to the rest of the body. Effects on estrogen’s signals for cell proliferation, pituitary hormone prolactin, and the activation of proteins involved in apoptosis (programmed cell death that is vital for normal body repair and function) were looked at.
“These compounds work at very low concentrations — at the parts per trillion or parts per quadrillion level — and when you mix them together they affect estrogenic signaling differently and more dramatically than they do individually,” Watson said. “We need to pay attention to this, because estrogens influence so many things in both males and females — reproduction, the immune system, metabolism, bone growth, all sorts of important biological functions.”
“Studies have detected measurable levels of bisphenol A and bisphenol S in the urine of more than 90 percent of Americans.”
Parents, don’t just throw your arms up in defeat. We must fight and diligently avoid plastics. No food stored in plastic, avoid canned foods (the lining of all cans is plastic) and food that comes in plastic containers. Do NOT microwave food in anything but glass or some safe non-plastic container.
Grandma was right after all. Buy and eat local! Real fresh food is the key.