On August 9th, 2010, The New York Times published an article titled First Signs of Puberty Seen in Younger Girls, in which it reported about a research study that demonstrated puberty is occurring in much younger girls than previous generations. Some girls are growing breasts by the age of 7. This trend has been continuing for a long time, and researchers have been puzzled by it. A 2010 study by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital came close to pinning down the cause.
"It's certainly throwing up a warning flag... I think we need to think about the stuff we're exposing our bodies to and the bodies of our kids. This is a wake-up call, and I think we need to pay attention to it."
-- Dr. Frank Biro, Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Chemicals which alter hormones are everywhere. They are in our foods, and the toys that our children play with. Bisphenol-A (BPA) has become very controversial in recent years, because it is known to disrupt the hormones, thus leading to earlier puberty onset, and problematic pregnancies. BPA has also been implicated for causing brain damage, cancer, diabetes, and heart problems. This chemical has been found in the urine of 90% of Americans. It is in drinking bottles, clear plastic containers, aluminum cans and aluminum drinking bottles (they have a clear BPA inner lining). BPA is an ingredient that is never labeled.
Milk that contains growth hormones can also effect development. Avoiding growth hormones can be difficult, and it is not as easy as simply buying milk that is free of rBGH. After all, milk is present in butter, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, and more. Most of these products are not easily available with "rBGH free" labeling, which is currently the only way for shoppers to be certain of its absence. It is likewise important for people to buy organic meats, to avoid hormones. Organic meats taste better, are less fatty, and are far more nutritious. It is worth noting that rBGH has been banned throughout the majority of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan. Here in America, Monsanto owns the regulators, and it literally has its own attorney on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas.
Air fresheners and other fragrances have also been shown to cause hormone disruption, particularly when they contain phthalates. Phthalates are hormone disruptors that are known to cause birth defects, infertility, and reduced sperm production. They are sometimes even found in air fresheners that are labeled, "All Natural" and "Unscented". It is best to avoid perfumes and air fresheners completely, particularly if you have children. In addition, we recommend purchasing laundry detergents which are specifically labeled "Phthalate-free".
Like BPA, pesticides have long been implicated as endocrine disruptors, which means that they destructively mimic human hormones. DDT was first shown to have this effect, but with each subsequent study, modern pesticides are revealing the same traits. This could be due to the fact that a lot of pesticides currently used are derived from DDT. Therefore, buying organic is vitally important, in order to protect your family. Pesticide residues are on conventionally grown produce, and inside it too; due to a new generation of pesticides that are designed to be absorbed into the plants.
Soy is present in almost all processed foods, despite its dangers. It contains estrogen-like compounds which compete with the body's own hormones, causing problems with reproduction and growth. All soy is toxic in its natural state. It is genetically modified and industrially processed into being less-toxic, but the health effects are still unconscionable. It stimulates cancers, as well as hormonal disorders like endometriosis.
Until labeling becomes mandatory for all of these chemicals, children will continue to be exposed to them, without the consent of their parents. It is no mystery why puberty is happening earlier, infertility is common, and breast cancer is on the rise. Worse is the fact that a lack of labeling on products containing these chemicals even makes studying their effects difficult.
New York Times, First Signs of Puberty Seen in Younger Girls -- http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/09/health/research/09puberty.html
Pesticide Action Network, Endocrine Disruptors -- http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/endocrin.htm