Chemicals that Mimic Hormones Explain Birth Defects and 8 year-olds Reaching Puberty Bisphenol A is a threat to your health. It's all around you - and probably in you. And BPA is most likely the cause of early puberty in young girls, plus birth defects in newborns. Birth defects caused by exposing an unborn child to toxic chemicals was rarely discussed by doctors and hospitals before fetal alcohol syndrome was first identified. Many women employed in industry do not know all dangers associated with chemicals used at work because of the reluctance of manufacturers to explain in Material Data Safety Sheets all that is known about individual chemicals in chemical mixtures. What is known is that chemicals that alter DNA do it across the board and life cycle. Birth defects, early puberty and cancer go hand-in-hand. BPA is exactly that kind of chemical. Endocrine disruption leads to carcinogenic, reproductive and developmental effects. In addition to early puberty, disruption of ovarian function, reduced sperm production, and reduced fertility are the outcomes. Potential developmental effects include low birth weight and birth defects. Endocrine disruptors are found in pesticides, insecticides and industrial chemicals, such as bisphenol A found in plastic containers and can liners, which has been receiving all the bad press it deserves. We know that two common pesticides found in polluted water, atrazine and bifenthrin, function in shellfish as estrogen does. Environmental and biological scientists have done much to warn us about the hazards in our food supply. In 1993 Stanford endocrinologist Dr. David Feldman was conducting research on steroid hormones in yeast cultures, such as estrogen, and he found hormones, but not where he expected them. After sterilizing empty flasks with very high heat and pressure, Feldman said he "discovered the molecules must be leaching from the plastic, because they weren't coming from the yeast," The plastic flasks were made of polycarbonate, a clear sturdy plastic found in numerous containers and in the epoxies used to paint the interior of cans used for food. . Bisphenol A was contaminating his experiments. He knew that bisphenol A was a chemical relative of DES, diethylstilbestrol, a chemical known to cause cancer in the offspring of mothers treated with DES to prevent spontaneous abortions. Dr. Feldman rang the warning bell and presented his results to a major conference in 1994 in a paper entitled "Estrogens in Unexpected Places: Possible Implications for Researchers and Consumers," later published in Environ Health Perspect. 1995 Oct;103 Suppl 7:129-3. Nobody listened, until 2007 when Canada banned the use of bisphenol A in plastic baby bottles. Industry did nothing about BPA for years because there were no penalties and no incentives to use alternatives, and as Professor Feldman notes" scientists can only say so much." From the first reported synthesis of BPA in 1936 it has been known as an estrogen. Dodds, E.C., Lawson W. "Synthetic Oestrogenic Agents Without the Phenanthrene Nucleus," Nature 137:996 (1936). Today BPA is associated with causing damage in reproduction and is a suspect in a myriad of other problems, including breast cancer, diabetes, testicular cancer and more, as shown in tests on laboratory animals. Bishpenol A can be found in baby bottles, water bottles and the white linings of canned foods. It was thought to be just fine, but we are eating it. BPA has been found in 93 percent of Americans who were tested for it. Industry, as expected, claims that it is safe. But it's not acceptable if it leaches into humans. The Environmental Working Group found that bisphenol A lines the cans of baby formula, including Nestlé, Ross-Abbot (Similac), Mead Johnson (Enfamil), Hain-Celestial (Earth's Best), and PBM (sold under various names at Walmart, Kroger, Target and other stores). Researchers say BPA acts like the hormone estrogen and can affect a developing brain and reproductive system. It is among the chemicals now known as environmental estrogens. "There is mounting scientific evidence that BPA is toxic, especially to children," Aaron Freeman, Policy Director with Environmental Defense, says in a statement. "Governments should be acting quickly, starting with a ban on BPA in food and beverage containers." In a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News, Edwin Garcia wrote that lawmakers in Sacramento have recently introduced an increasing number of bills to clamp down on potential toxins in our lives -- bisphenol A and others. Environmental authorities in our northern neighbor, Canada, were so alarmed about bisphenol A that retailers yanked from their shelves many children's toys containing the chemical. And the same should be true in the United States. Unfortunately, that's not happening. There will be consequences once the rest of the world knows what industrial already knows about this chemical. Exposure to chemicals that mimic estrogens in the body is thought to be the reason more girls are entering puberty at younger ages, according to Jeanne Rizzo, executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund. Dr. Marcia Herman-Giddens of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill school of public health, in a 1997 study of 17,000 Girls in the US, found that black girls begin puberty shortly before age 9 on average, while white girls begin just before age 10. Dr. Herman-Giddens found an astonishing 45 percent of all Afro-American females reach puberty at age 8 and have begun developing breasts, growing pubic and underarm hair or both Think that through and consider the consequences of early development. Third grade girls, without the benefit of judgment or maturity, have reached the beginning of their sexual development without the emotional skills to make appropriate decisions. That's more than a family problem - it's a major social problem. Bishpenol A mimics hormones and because of its widespread use BPA is among the environmental chemicals suspected to be responsible. The San Jose Mercury News on April 7, 2008 opined that bisphenol A should be deemed safe until proven guilty and in doing so maligned the research of Dr. Vom Saal and falsely stated that the scientific door on bisphenol A was still open. http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8837191 Both claims were false, as was the Mercury's premise that bisphenol A is safe. On April 10, 2008 the Mercury responsibly admitted that its editorial supporting the safety of bisphenol A mischaracterized the credibility of biologist Frederick vom Saal and the position of the National Academy of Science. The Mercury conceded that the Vom Saal studies of bisphenol A have stood the test of peer review and that recent studies by National Academy of Science scientists have produced results questioning the safety of bisphenol A. The US should be adopting the principles of precaution and prevention, long advocated by the Environmental Research Foundation in numerous papers. Bishpenol A is too high on the suspect list to be granted a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Our daughters are at risk and that means this chemical must not be used until its has been proven safe. There's no second chance if it disables your daughter or grandchild. Chemicals should be deemed dangerous until proven innocent because we can never unring the bell of altered human DNA in this generation and the next. The Kids Safe Chemicals Act places the burden of proof on the chemical industry, which has produced more than 60,000 new chemicals in the last 30 years without safety testing, to prove that chemicals are safe for children before they are used in consumer products. See "Shouldn't Chemicals be Proven Safe for Kids Before Marketing, May 21, 2008. Why stop there? Why not make it "Everyone's Safe Chemical Act"?
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