Health Alert 14
You probably already know that pollutants can put you at risk for cancer. Now there is a new threat from environmental pollutants. One that threatens your sexual health.
The World Health Organization is scheduled to release a report this month on a newly categorized health threat called endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDC’s. These EDC’s are spilling into the environment. They have been found to change sexual characteristics in wild animals that have been environmentally exposed.
The report will urge world governments to take immediate action to investigate the effects of these gender-bending chemicals on the population. These chemicals have been also linked to reproductive irregularities in both animals and humans.
EDC’s disrupt hormones in the bodies of those who are exposed to them. Rising incidences of low sperm counts, early puberty, and deformed sexual organs are only some of the consequences of exposure.
* Mutated Hormone Mimickers*
A group of EDC’s found in industrialized nations called xenoestrogens (pronounced zee-noh) are particularly concerning. Produced by the millions of tons, they are set loose on nature by modern industry.
In biology, “xeno” means foreign or alien. Estrogens are the hormones that produce feminine features. So xenoestrogens are foreign chemicals that mimic female hormones.
These chemicals began to be released into the environment in massive quantities about a half century ago. Later, peculiar hormonal abnormalities began to show up. The shocking story was summarized by a research team at Tufts University in Boston in a 1998 report.
The researchers uncovered link after link between environmental chemicals and hormonal effects in both wildlife and humans. “Aviation crop dusters handling DDT were found to have reduced sperm counts”. Factory workers producing other insecticides were found to have “lost their libido, became impotent and had low sperm counts.”1
Manmade compounds used to make plastic were found to mimic estrogen. The investigators found estrogens in some canned foods (the cans were lined with estrogenic compounds). And, the researchers found estrogen leaching from some dental sealants into the mouths of unsuspecting patients.
There are reports of male fish with female-like gonads and female fish with male-like gonads swimming in rivers close to paper mills, chemical plants, and plastic manufacturers.
EDC’s are also found in the meat that we eat. Animals are fed grains which contains the dangerous additives. And, to fatten up livestock, hormones and hormone mimickers are added to animal feed.
*What You Can Do*
What can you do? Well, you can’t change the entire industrialized world. But you can help to protect yourself from a food industry gone awry. And we can get help from nature.
Athletes have used a naturally occurring nutrient called indole-3-carbinol to lower estrogen for years. It is found in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts. Recent research has been proving them right.
A 1997 study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed significantly lowered estrogen levels in patients treated with indole-3-carbinol. I3C is available as a nutritional supplement.
Now you have another reason to eat your vegetables. Vegetables that contain I3C are; Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and mustard. You can get extra protection by taking an I3C supplement. The supplement I most commonly use has 200 milligrams taken twice a day.
I’ve recently added another similar nutrient when estrogen levels are resistant to treatment called diindolymethane or DIM. Think of it as a trumped up I3C. Athletes have been using it to good effect. And, a recent study using rats proved that DIM effectively inhibited estrogen activity.
Men can use saw palmetto to block buildup of hormones in their prostates. Women can protect themselves with soy. Soy products contain compounds that bind to estrogen receptors and block the effect of xenoestrogens.
Food preparation can also help reduce your intake of hormones. The chemicals collect in the fats of meat. Cut any visible fat off of meat before cooking it. Stay away from processed meats. The fat is already ground in. Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating.
Al Sears, MD
1 Sonnenschein C, Soto AM: J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 1998 Apr; 65(1-6):143-50.