Did anyone see the NYT article the other day that links phthalates and male infertility? Since our scientific knowledge is in constant transition, I try not to be alarmist when the latest health research findings are published. Having followed the literature on so called “endocrine disruptors” for years now, though, this doesn’t strike me as a concern that will go away.
Endocrine disruptors interfere with hormone production and distribution in our bodies. I posted a year or so ago on BPA, another such compound, and its unsettling link to, among other things, male frog vaginas—a deeply pleasant thought, I know. (For info on where BPA lurks and some ways to avoid it, see post.)
As human infertility rates climb, phthalates are worrisome, too. According to the NYT, these lurk in “cosmetics and plastics, but also packaging, textiles, detergents and other household products. . . tubing used in hospitals to deliver medications; enteric coatings on pills, including some aspirin; materials used to create time-release capsules.” They were banned from toys in 2008. There are plenty of other environmental toxins, like heavy metals, in the mix, and the trends are disturbing.
Unlike some toxins, if you slow or limit exposure to pthalates, the body will excrete them. That’s good news: They won’t linger and accumulate like, say, lead. Since they interfere with testosterone production and sperm quality, boys are at particular risk, but girls require this hormone, too. It sounds like the two easiest steps to avoid them is to keep your food away from plastic, and to read cosmetics, body care, and home product labels carefully.
I personally tossed all of my plastic containers years ago in lieu of glass. Glass containers come in every shape and size, most are oven-safe, and you can use them for serving. I also avoid plastic products made from PVC (recycling code 3), especially when it may get near food that is warm or contains fat (since fat is where toxins accumulate). Too, there are many cosmetic lines now that have proudly eliminated pthalates and other questionable industrial compounds. Click here for more information.
Again, the data is still incoming and under scrutiny. Researchers feel, though, there is enough evidence to warrant concern, and since the major steps to avoid it are simple enough, why not safeguard your boys’ boys?