Yesterday, I blogged about how the Catholic Church is blaming The Pill for male infertility. Something about how women taking contraception are polluting the water supply by flushing away all that estrogen into the world's water supply.
Blame the fornicating females, as usual.
Coincidentally, today comes this news from the Canadian Women's Health Network. No, it's not your imagination. Little girls are turning into big girls a lot sooner than they used to. They're developing breasts and getting their periods at younger ages than, say, 40 years ago and that apparently puts them at greater risk for breast cancer.
That girls are hitting puberty earlier comes as no surprise to me. I can remember very well when my friends and I all got their periods back in the day, because it was pretty much all we talked about. I also can recall that few of us filled more than a ''training bra'' in Grade 7.
As I type this, I am watching the kids from the middle school not far away head home for the day and, although they are now bundled up, I know that those girls have women's bodies underneath their puffy jackets.
For years now, I have observed class after class of girls with boobs and hips while the boys lag way behind developmentally. T'was always thus of course but now the difference seems much more pronounced. What's more, thanks to media, fashion and other socio-cultural shifts, girls are dressing and behaving much more sexually. I imagine it must be very different to be a ''tween'' nowadays.
But I digress.
According to research, all kinds of factors may be behind this earlier onset of puberty, including better nutrition. Perhaps. But, growing up in an affluent neighbourhood as I did, I didn't notice anybody starving.
So there must be other reasons for this, as the Canadian Women's Health Network piece points out:
In The Falling Age of Puberty in US Girls (2007), Sandra Steingraber, who is probably best known for her groundbreaking work on the links between environmental health contaminants and cancer, undertakes a thorough meta-analysis of the existing data on early puberty in girls. She carefully traces the complex and interlocking relationships between puberty, which includes the advent of breast buds, pubic hair and menarche (first menstruation), with physiological, psychological and environmental (nutritional, chemical) conditions, and the consequences for the maturation process of our young women.
Steingraber argues that more recently, particularly in the last several decades, trends in the decline of the onset of puberty in the United States (which are similar with other affluent countries or countries with similar ethnic heritage) seem to be responding to stimuli beyond nutrition and general health.
Her report highlights numerous studies which have linked exposure to chemicals in our environment, particularly endocrine-disrupting chemicals (which can mimic hormones in the body), to a plethora of health concerns, such as shortened gestational periods in fetal development, low birth weight babies, higher rates of obesity and poor insulin regulation in the body, which are all risk factors for early puberty. This should make us sit up and take notice, since as Steingraber says, “children are exposed continuously to low-level endocrine disruptors in their diets, drinking water and air supply.”
Chemical flame retardants, for example, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) have been linked to earlier menstruation in girls and with earlier pubarche. Similarly, high levels of dioxin exposure have been associated with elevated risks for breast cancer and early menarche.
Also, hormonally active components, which have been linked to earlier pubertal development, can be found in a wide array of consumer products, including hair tonics, pesticides, packaging and building materials.
As a result, studies have shown hormonally active agents in the urine of US girls and traces of such known human contaminants as phthalates and bisphenol A (which was originally developed as a synthetic hormone, but is now used in all polycarbonate plastics and the linings of food and beverage cans, among other uses; it has been recently been banned in Canada for use in baby bottles). Rat studies on bisphenol A indicate that prenatal and early-life exposure can induce earlier sexual maturity.
The use of natural and synthetic hormones to promote growth in US livestock and stimulate milk production in dairy cattle (a practice banned in European countries) has also raised concern; critics of the practice believe this may contribute to early puberty onset, but again, more research is necessary.
Steingraber concludes that, in combination, this chemical cocktail may be a significant factor in causing the “new normal” rates of pubertal development in US girls, but we don’t have enough research to say for certain—only enough research to raise red flags and caution.
If women are becoming more womanly because of pollution, then it stands to reason that men are becoming less like men -- at least in fertility terms.
I don't know about you but I am finding more and more reasons to avoid eating meat and to go completely organic. This I believe will develop into one of the biggest issues of the next few years, especially as we look for ways to slow down climate change. If more people cut back on animal products, we'll cut back on environmental degradation.
Do you suppose the Pope will get down with that?
Nah. Thaty's because early puberty = early pregnancy and the more babies, the better.