By Dr Mercola
Reaching puberty is a rite of passage we’ve all been through, but children are now reaching it earlier than ever before, and while precocious puberty in girls has received the most attention, we now know the trend is growing. also applies to boys.
In the 19th century, the onset of menstruation in girls occurred around the age of 15. Today, the average age of your first period is around 12 years old. Some girls develop breasts as young as seven.1 .
According to a recent study by the journal Pediatrics2, boys now begin sexual development six months to two years earlier than the medically accepted standard based on previous studies.
African American boys have been found to reach the onset of puberty the earliest, starting at the age of nine. Caucasian and Hispanic boys begin to develop around the age of 10.
“The causes and public health implications of this apparent shift in American boys towards an inferior age for the development of secondary sex characteristics in American boys need to be further explored.” write the authors.
Indeed, while some may ignore the tendency for early ripening, it’s actually quite important, as it can affect physical and psychological health in a number of ways, including by increasing the future risk of hormonal cancers. Girls who enter puberty earlier are at increased risk of breast cancer, for example, due to the early rise in estrogen.
This trend also raises serious questions about the environmental factors behind this development. Principal researcher Marcia Herman-Giddens told CNN Health3:
“The changes are too fast. Genetics take maybe hundreds, thousands of years. You have to watch something in the environment. This would include everything from (lack of) exercise to junk food to television to products. chemical. “
Environmental chemicals, a likely factor
Scientists have put forward a number of potential explanations for the increased rates of precocious puberty, but the ones that deserve special attention are environmental chemicals, and in particular xenoestrogens, i.e. chemicals that mimic estrogen. These compounds behave like steroid hormones and can alter the timing of puberty and affect the risk of disease throughout life.
In adults, xenoestrogens have been associated with decreased sperm quality, stimulation of mammary gland development in men, disrupted reproductive cycles and ovarian dysfunction, obesity , cancer and heart disease, among many other health problems.
Today we are surrounded by hormone disrupting chemicals, many of which are plasticizers. Bisphenol A (BPA), for example, is an industrial petrochemical that acts like a synthetic estrogen, and can be found in plastics and can fillings, in dental sealants, and on sales receipts. Three years ago, laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected BPA in umbilical cord blood 90% of newborns tested – along with over 230 other chemicals!
In September 2010, Canada declared BPA a toxic substance, but to date no other country has followed suit, although BPA has been banned in baby bottles in Canada, Europe and the United States. Frustrating, the United States FDA rejected request to ban BPAHowever, many US companies have voluntarily withdrawn the chemical from their products, in response to consumer demand. So if you look around you can find a lot of BPA free products.
However, the buyer is wary as it recently emerged that some companies are simply replacing the offending BPA with another lesser known but equally toxic chemical called bisphenol-S (BPS)! Not only does BPS appear to have similar characteristics to BPA, research suggests that it is actually much less biodegradable, and more heat-stable and photoresistant, than BPA.
10 main offenders who can disrupt your hormones
Besides BPA and BPS, other top offenders you should be aware of and watch out for include:
Phthalates, a group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient. They are also one of the most prevalent endocrine disruptors, found in everything from processed food packaging and shower curtains to detergents, toys, and beauty products like nail polish, hair spray, shampoo, deodorants and perfumes. Exposure to phthalates may result in incomplete testicular descent in the fetus, decreased sperm count, testicular atrophy or structural abnormality and inflammation in newborns. Fluoride, which is in addition to the majority of public water supplies in the United States. Research has shown that fluoride treated animals had lower levels of circulating melatonin, as evidenced by reduced levels of melatonin metabolites in the urine of animals. This reduced level of circulating melatonin was accompanied – not surprisingly – by an earlier onset of puberty in females treated with fluoride. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a probable carcinogen found in grease- and water-resistant coatings and non-stick cookware. Methoxychlor and vinclozine, an insecticide and a fungicide, respectively, have been shown to cause changes in male mice born up to four generations after initial exposure. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE). Known to be powerful endocrine disruptors, these chemicals affect gene expression by turning certain genes on or off and interfering with the functioning of your glandular system. Bovine growth hormones (rBGH) commonly added to commercial dairy products have been implicated as a contributor to premature adolescence. MSG, a food additive that has been associated with reduced fertility. Unfermented soy products, which are loaded with hormone-like substances. RIGHT (a degradation product of the pesticide DDT) PCB
New concern: metalloestrogens
Recent research has also confirmed the existence of a previously unknown class of compounds that mimic carcinogenic estrogens: “metalloestrogens”. The following metals, which are added to thousands of consumer products, including vaccines, have been identified as being able to bind to cellular estrogen receptors and then mimic the actions of physiological estrogen:4
Aluminum Antimony Arsenite Barium Cadmium Chromium Cobalt Copper Drive Mercury Nickel Selenite Believe Vanadate
Tips for reducing exposure to hormone-disrupting substances
While young girls and boys can show obvious signs of exposure to hormone-disrupting substances through precocious puberty, other signals are more insidious and may not appear until disease is already present. You can reduce your family’s exposure to these dangerous chemicals by following these 12 guidelines. Pregnant women and women at risk of becoming pregnant should pay particular attention to minimizing their exposure in order to protect the health of their unborn baby:
- Eat whole products, preferably organic, and organic free-range meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides, and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain genetically modified recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST)
- Eat mostly raw and fresh foods. Processed and prepackaged foods (of all kinds) are a major source of soy and chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.
- Store your food and drink in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap and canned foods (which are often lined with liners that contain BPA).
- Use glass bottles and BPA-free cups for your little ones.
- Make sure your baby’s toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings, and anything else your child is likely to suck on.
- Use only natural cleaning products in your home to avoid phthalates.
- Switch to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database5 is a great resource for finding personal care products free of phthalates, parabens, and other potentially harmful chemicals.
- Avoid using artificial deodorants, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or other synthetic fragrances.
- Replace your nonstick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
- When renovating your home, look for toxin-free “green” alternatives instead of regular paint and vinyl flooring.
- Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one.
- Avoid unfermented soybeans, especially if you are pregnant. Also, never use soy infant formula.