04/27/2011 10:22 am ET | Updated Jun 27, 2011

'ED' Is an Effect of ED

"ED, erectile dysfunction, is an EFFECT of ED, endocrine disruption."

That's a direct quote from one of my all-time heroines, Dr. Theo Colborn, author of "Our Stolen Future" and one of the scientists who coined the term "endocrine disruption" 20 years ago. She and her fellow scientists created the term to explain the effects of a growing body of evidence and concern that toxic chemicals in our environment were severely disrupting the endocrine processes of amphibians and perhaps (no longer perhaps) humans.

Big deal, right? Until you realize what the endocrine system governs. Starting with the hippocampus, which is the part of our brain that makes us uniquely human, and able to love and be good parents. Then the thyroid, the adrenals, pancreas (hence the connection to diabetes and obesity) and finally, testosterone and all our reproductive organs. Yes, that's the endocrine system! So anything that DISRUPTS that should be looked on with great fear.  Otherwise, we might face a world without sex. And while some people might look at that as a relief, or a sign of God's damnation on our sins or something, I for one am highly opposed!

There are more than 800 proven toxic endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our environment right now--many of them deriving from petroleum, including benzene, chlorine, and PCBs. And don't forget that most toxic chemical fertilizers are derived from petroleum, as well.

But Dr. Colburn reserves a special place in her book of offenders for benzene, which she calls "the mother of all endocrine disruptors." Benzene is a toxic waste by-product from crude oil and natural gas production. So, she states, contrary to those hideously propagandist commercials funded by the natural gas and petroleum and coal industries, natural gas is not a clean fuel. In fact, she believes we only have 20 more years of exposure to these powerful endocrine disruptors before we have put our ability to reproduce as a species at serious risk.  And she urges a shift to alternative energies NOW.

When I was 14, I had never heard of erectile dysfunction. Now my 4-year-old has become familiar with the TV commercials and could probably tell you what it is. And while that might just be a change in our social mores and FCC regulations, simple observation--in addition to piles and piles of scientific studies--shows we are radically altering the hormonal, sexual, reproductive, and just plain physical stamina of our species (species = boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, lover, etc....). If you want to check out Dr. Colburn's list of chemicals to watch for, go to (the Endocrine Disruption Exchange) or for her new, extensively documented list.

But in the meantime, pay attention, because everything you do matters, and either leads to more or less toxicity. It's time to wake up! Turn off the TV and stop dreaming that everything is just fine. We've got work ahead of us, and the alarm clock is ringing.

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