Depopulation: Plastics chemicals are reducing women's sex drives and men's sperm counts
New research out of the University of Rochester in New York has found that the plastics chemicals lurking in furniture, food packaging and many other consumer products are directly linked to decreased libido and lowered sperm counts in humans.
Presented at the recent annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Honolulu, Hawaii, a study by Dr. Emily Barrett found that not only do most people have plastics chemicals in their systems, but those with the highest levels also have the lowest sex drives.
"It is interesting because these are chemicals that we are all exposed to every day," stated Dr. Barrett, who found that pregnant women in their 20s and 30s with high levels of phthalates in their blood -- phthalates are plasticizing chemicals that make items more bendable -- were 250 percent more likely than those with low levels to lose interest in sex.
"[Plastics chemicals] are throughout our environment and every person studied showed measurable levels."
For her research, Dr. Barrett looked at 360 pregnant women, testing their urine for phthalate content.
She found that these pervasive chemicals are directly correlated with decreased sex drive, not only in men but also in women.
"For a lot of women with loss of libido there is no obvious reason," she stated, adding that "it is important to know how these chemicals might contribute."
The more processed a food is, the more likely it is to contain hormone-disrupting chemicals
Some of the worst plastics chemical offenders, it turns out, are highly processed foods. Besides the packaging itself, many processed foods are made using equipment that contains plasticizing chemicals, which often end up in the final product.
"One of the recommendations... to potentially lower your exposure is to eat less processed food and to pick fresh things without packaging," stated Dr. Barrett about the approach she used during her own pregnancy.
Other sources of plastics chemical exposure include PVC piping and flooring, plastic shower curtains, plastic wrap for food, and both furniture and automobile interiors. BPA in plastic bottles and food can linings is also problematic, having been linked to lowered sperm counts in men.
One's best bet is to avoid processed and fast foods completely, and to stick with fresh foods that come in minimal packaging. Avoiding anything and everything made from or containing plastic -- including products labeled "BPA-free" -- will also help minimize exposure.
Men are most harmed by hormone-disrupting chemicals
Though plastics chemicals harm both men and women, men seem to get the shorter end of the stick, as most of these substances are estrogen-mimickers. This means that they exert a "feminizing" effect on those exposed, which in men means decreased testosterone and lowered sperm production.
As you may recall, research published back in 2012 found that male aquatic life exposed to various endocrine-disrupting chemicals actually began to develop female body parts. Some of the male fish reportedly started growing eggs instead of sperm, a shocking finding that has powerful implications for human males.
"Evidence has indicated that for the past few decades, sperm counts have been declining in some human populations -- and that this might be related to exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA is very reasonable," said Gail Prins, a reproductive physiologist at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
"I strongly believe that the U.S. should take measures to reduce the use of this chemical, since levels build over time."
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