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Is something wrong with the sexual development of human males?

Source:thehalsreport.com
Author:Erik Hals
Date:19/01-2011

To begin with, Sperm counts have dropped by 50% in the last 50 years worldwide. On the other hand, sperm abnormalities and rates of male infertility have increased radically. Rates of testicular cancer have also doubled in the last 20 years.The question is, why?

Scientist now believe certain man made chemicals are to blame. These chemicals have been known to interfere with the male hormonal system where they wreak havoc on the building blocks of male sexual development. The problem is, they are everywhere.

60 years ago synthetic chemicals were a futuristic novelty. Since that time, the chemical industry has developed more than 90,000 man made compounds and the vast majority have never been tested for effects on human beings.

These chemicals are found in virtually every consumer product. Chemicals like Bisphenol-A make plastics hard. Other chemicals called Phthalates make plastics soft. They make cosmetics smell good and our fabrics stain resistant. Yet the question remains, is it really worth it?

For some time now scientist have expressed concerns claiming common chemicals cause profound and permanent damage in children. Now, scientist are just beginning to understand that some synthetic chemicals are far more damaging to boys. Yes, that’s right, boys. Young adult men are also at risk. Sperm counts in college aged men have fallen dramatically in recent decades. A typical young man produces less than half the sperm his father did and up to 85% of it is abnormal.

In a fertility clinic at the University of Rochester, researchers tracked the crisis by studying the fertility of sperm. The change they discovered was sudden and alarming. Researchers tested college males sperm quality and found only 30-40% of sperm donated actually qualified as donor sperm. (compared to 60-80% in 1985).

The idea of chemicals effecting male fertility and reproduction is an established fact for wildlife biologists. Since the late 1980?s Dr. Louis Guillette has been researching the sexual development of male alligators who nest in the heavily polluted lakes of central Florida.

Guillette has discovered that the sexual organs of the male alligators in these lakes are one-third their normal size. Their reproduction rate in the colony is 90% below average also.

“Were at a point now where we have evidence suggesting that pesticides have the ability to actually alter the development of the testes,” Guillette explained. “The abnormalities are related to low testosterone levels, the little alligators we study as males have testosterone levels of females.” The strong evidence of chemicals causing sexual abnormalities goes far beyond the study of wildlife.

The testes is a part of the male endocrine system. It is a network of glands that regulates many of the bodies functions. For example, it stimulates growth, regulates metabolism and controls reproduction. These glands also release hormones which are known as the bodies chemical messengers. The sex hormone testosterone is a chemical messenger that plays a central role in male sexual development. Some synthetic chemicals can disrupt or block the function of testosterone in the body, permanently damaging the sexual development of male children. This disruption of the human bodies own system may be the greatest unintended consequence of the 20th centuries chemical revolution.

The chemical industry is only 100 years old but has transformed the world.

The second world war accelerated demand for countless new products. Prescription drugs, food additives, synthetic, rubber, nylon and pesticides are just a few. By the early 1950?s the chemical industry was turning out hundreds of compounds. One product revolutionized the way we live, plastic! Yet virtually all of these new compounds were derived from one source, petroleum. Synthetic chemicals made modern life possible. At first, few suspected synthetic chemicals might be dangerous. Pesticides like DDT were seen as innocuous, even beneficial. By the 1960?s though, our natural habitat was telling a different story as certain chemicals like PCB an dioxin devastated the environment.

Up until recently doctors believed the fetus was protected from contamination by the placental barrier, but the truth is the womb provides no such protection. For several weeks after conception the embryo is neither male nor female, sex hormones orchestrate the process. In the seventh week of pregnancy the male reproductive tract starts developing and the sad truth is, chemical exposures are likely behind a 200% increase in genital birth defects. Even after birth the infant is further exposed to chemicals in the mothers breast milk.

For decades, the chemical industry has chosen not to test its products on bodies that are still growing. (they test adult animals to predict what will happen on baby fetuses!!!!!)

Research shows male fetuses are being miscarried in ever-greater numbers. There is strong evidence chemical exposure is killing boys in the womb. One such piece of evidence is Aamjiwnaang, an Indian reserve in Canada. Scientists turned their attention to the reserve after a study of the tribe’s birth records confirmed a steady plunge in the number of boys born over the last decade. In fact, by the end of the study two girls had been born for every boy, one of the steepest declines ever studied in the ration of boys to girls. 40% of Canada’s entire chemical industry is near Aamjiwnaang. The plants release shocking amounts of dioxin, benzene and mercury, toxins known to be toxic to human reproduction. The industry and government continue to remain quiet.

The falling male birth rate is a global phenomenon. There are now more than 20 heavily industrialized nations where male births have mysteriously declined. Since 1970, this has added up to over 3 million fewer baby boys. Yet the danger is not only found in heavily contaminated communities, it also exists in our homes.

Children live in a constant state of exposure to over 1000 synthetic chemicals. They are found in computers, clothing, furniture and bedding. It is in the water and air. This flood of synthetic compounds has made day to day life a toxic mind field to male children. Virtually all of the chemicals linked to male reproductive problems are linked to petroleum.

A common class of petrochemicals called phthalates (which is used in everything from cosmetics and medical IV tubing to food packaging and childrens toys) has been found to disrupt normal sexual development in male babies. Phthalates in the mothers body and breast milk have been linked to the disruption of normal sexual development in male babies. In fact, it’s called phthalate syndrome.
Many soft toys contain phthalates despite the fact they can leech out of the plastic and end up in the bodies of infant children. Phthalates are also widely used in personal care products including deodorant, hair gel, shampoo and body wash.

One phthalate in particular which is used in PVC plastics has been raising enormous concern because of where it is used and who we use it on. Frighteningly, anywhere you look in a neonatal ward you will find one of the most common plastics in the world, PVC vinyl. This flexible material contains a phthalate called DEHP.

DEHP has been classified as a reproductive toxicant by several agencies around the globe. A reproductive toxicant is a compound that has effects through stages of development on the human reproductive system.

Incredibly, PVC is used to make medical devices such as intravenous tubing, catheters and blood bags. Many studies have demonstrated how DEHP in medical devices can leech from the vinyl ending up in the bodies of vulnerable children in staggering amounts.

On average a person will take in up to 30 micrograms per kilogram of DEHP a day and that is considered a safe level with intake. However, in a hospital setting an infant or a child may receive up to 200 times this amount in a single exposure. This exposure could last for a single day or months. The frail organs of premature male babies are extremely susceptible to damage. The U.S. dept. of health and human services has also expressed concern that DEHP may be related to male sexual development.

Of all the chemicals raising concern, none is more notorious then Bisphenol-A. More than 7 billion pounds of this chemical is produced yearly. It is the raw material for one of the most widely used plastics in society, polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a hard rigid plastic used in a vast array of products, from DVDs to baby bottles. Up until recently most people had never even heard of Bisphenol-A, however, it’s been around for a very long time and we’ve only recently discovered how dangerous it is.

Bisphenol-A was first synthesized in 1891 by a Russian chemist. By the 1940?s Bisphenol-A was being developed as a possible drug for hormone treatments after it was discovered that it behaved like estrogen in lab animals. The turning point came later when it was also discovered that Bisphenol-A could be used in plastics as a way of making clear shatterproof containers and in epoxy resins that line food cans. Now, its history as a synthetic estrogen has come back to haunt us. Scientist now claim Bisphenol-A is extremely deadly to the male reproductive system.

In 2005, researchers at the University of Cincinnati discovered Bisphenol-A would leech into baby milk from polycarbonate plastic baby bottles and permanently disrupt brain development in laboratory animals. The polycarbonate also disrupted areas of the brain that deal with memory and motivation functions.

The claim that chemicals like Bisphenol-A have no significant effects on the body is contradicted by 100?s of independent studies. Almost all of the studies that found no effect on laboratory animals were commissioned by the chemical industry. Yes, the chemical industry! However, this is much bigger than one single chemical.

Of the 80,000 chemicals in use right now, 85% of them have never undergone testing to study their impact on the human body. The debate over the safety of man made chemicals will continue to stir controversy for as long as we exist, but we will never live in a world without them again. It will be decades before we really understand the impact of synthetic chemicals but one thing is for certain, it is damaging the male reproductive system of baby boys.