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Boys With Boobs: Hidden Chemicals Fed to Kids Can Impact Their Health

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Chemicals in the everyday products we use in our homes may be negatively affecting our hormones, says a newly-released study by WHO, the World Health Organization. The study, titled "State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals," says pesticides, plasticizers and product additives contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). They act like synthetic hormones, throwing off the body's natural hormonal system. A hormone is a chemical messenger produced in the glands in our endocrine system and released in our blood and affects everything from mood to metabolism.

One of the chemicals investigated in the study is BPA, or bisphenol A, which mimics estrogen if it's introduced into your body. It can get there by leaching out of hard plastic bottles, especially if they are heated (in microwave ovens or dishwashers) or exposed to acidic solutions (tomato sauce). BPA is also found in plastic reusable food containers, canned soup, soda cans, and cash register and ATM receipts.

Frederick vom Saal, a biology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia and one of the leading BPA researchers in the country, says that in studies of laboratory animals BPA changes play behavior, weakens gender differences, decreases sperm count, stimulates prostate cancer and causes ADHD symptoms.

BPA Is Also Making Us Fat

A study of nearly 3,000 children and teens in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found a significant association between levels of BPA in kids' urine and obesity. The report said that kids with the highest levels of BPA in their urine were over 2.5 times more likely to be obese compared to those with low levels of the chemical.

BPA might also be responsible for another disturbing effect. "I saw lots of 10- and 11-year-old boys with breasts," said Michelle Perro, M.D., during an interview, referring to what she observed while on a recent beach vacation. "I also am seeing a number of them in my office, and I'm convinced it's partially due to BPA in plastic that's acting as an endocrine disruptor," said Dr. Perro, a Marin County, Calif. pediatrician who's been practicing medicine for 30 years.

Kids Are at Risk

Children are exposed especially from eating canned foods. In a new report by the Breast Cancer Fund, dangerous levels were found in a wide variety of canned foods specifically marketed towards kids. Some of the highest levels were found in Campbell's Disney Princess and Toy Story soups as well as from "healthy" companies like Annie's Homegrown and Earth's Best Organic.

BPA Is Everywhere and Inside Almost Everyone

We are repeatedly being exposed to BPA on a daily basis and it's showing up in our bodies. Nearly 93 percent of people aged 6 or older had detectable levels of BPA in their urine, according to a 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination survey. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also found BPA in umbilical cord blood, indicating that this chemical starts polluting babies in the womb. Infants then are exposed to BPA from their formula cans, baby bottles, sippy cups and mother's milk (if the nursing mom eats canned foods).

Toxic Shell Game

Last year the FDA finally banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, but in some instances BPA is being replaced with BPS, which lacks scientific research. "When they replace BPA with chemicals that are less well known and less well studied it's simply a toxic shell game," said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) in Oakland, Calif., during a recent interview. "They don't know the health impacts of these new chemicals and in my opinion, they don't want to know the health impacts, because if they know, they may have some liability or responsibility," he added. According to Green, the solution is to create and enforce new regulations on toxic chemicals. "We need to change the rules that govern what chemical companies can and cannot use in products, especially those designed for small children to put in their mouths."

Things You Can Do to Drastically Cut Down on BPA Exposure

  • Limit canned foods.* If you do eat from cans, seek out companies that claim not to use BPA. These include Trader Joe's, Eden Foods, Westbrook Farms and Bionaturae.
  • Choose foods in glass jars whenever possible.
  • Opt for fresh or frozen food. Every can you pass up means less BPA in your body.
  • If you use infant formula, choose the powdered variety in non-steel cans.
  • Give your baby breast milk (Check out Honeysuckle breast milk storage bags, which are BPA-free.
  • Replace plastic baby bottles with glass bottles.
  • Stop using plastic food containers in the microwave -- heat it in glass instead.
  • Deny receipts whenever possible.

*Note: BPA levels in different canned foods varies wildly, but a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association detected shocking levels. The levels of BPA in participants skyrocketed 1,000 percent after eating a can of Progresso soup. Dangerously high levels have also been detected in popular brands of kids' canned foods.

For More Information on BPA Safety

Breast Cancer Fund, CEH, CHE, EWG

Beth Greer, Super Natural Mom®, is author of the bestseller "Super Natural Home," endorsed by Deepak Chopra and Ralph Nader. She's former President of The Learning Annex, and an environmental health advocate who eliminated a sizable tumor in her chest without drugs or surgery. Beth is also an inspiring speaker and popular media guest having appeared on CNN, ABC and NBC. She designs Working Healthy corporate wellness programs and personalized in-home detox audits nationwide. www.BethGreer.com

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