Birth Defect Study Casts Doubt on Phthalate Fears

Big Don

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 2, 2007
Messages
10,551
Reaction score
189
Location
Sanger CA
July 10, 2009 Birth Defect Study Casts Doubt on Phthalate Fears

Hypospadias is apparently not on the rise in the U.S., casting doubt on claims that phthalates and other endocrine disruptors cause reproductive abnormalities in humans

By Marla Cone and Environmental Health News
Scientific American
EXCERPT:


Hypospadias, one of the most common birth defects among baby boys, apparently is not increasing in the U.S., casting doubt on whether boys are harmed by phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals thought to trigger reproductive abnormalities.
Researchers have reported that the hypospadias rate stayed the same in New York State between 1992 and 2005. An earlier study also found no increase in California boys between 1984 and 1997.
Hypospadias, a condition in which the urethra opening is on the underside of the penis rather than the tip, occurs in roughly one of every 250 male births. Surgery is normally required or the condition can lead to infertility.
Some environmental scientists have suspected, based on studies of lab animals, that exposure to chemicals that block testosterone may be partially responsible for the birth defects.
In tests of lab rats, chemicals called phthalates, which are widely used in plastic and personal care products, cause several reproductive abnormalities that scientists have dubbed testicular dysgenesis syndrome" or "phthalate syndrome." Included are hypospadias, undescended testes, reduced sperm counts and testicular cancer.
In the new study, New York Presbyterian Hospital urologists said that because hypospadias rates are stable, it casts doubt on whether human boys are harmed by phthalates or other endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
The researchers reported in the journal Urology that these data suggest that the testicular dysgenesis syndrome described in animal models may not be evident in humans. The lead author was Dr. Harry Fisch, director of the hospitals Male Reproductive Center and a professor of clinical urology at Columbia University.
But other experts say the study does not invalidate the theory.
The evidence seems to suggest that there hasn't been a big increase in hypospadias over recent years, which does weaken the argument that new endocrine disruptors in the environment are causing hypospadias, said Kim Harley, a University of California, Berkeley epidemiologist who studies environmental exposures and human health but was not involved with the study.
Nevertheless, she added that it doesnt rule out that phthalates or other chemicals have a role in causing the defects. Looking at how birth defect rates change over time is not an adequate way of examining environmental connections.
END EXCERPT
From Dictionary.com:
Main Entry: phthal繚ate
Pronunciation: 'thal-"At
Function: noun
: a salt or ester of phthalic acid
The P,h and e are all silent.
 

JDenver

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
388
Reaction score
19
It's interesting - thanks.

I'm fascinated with some of this stuff, mainly how folks can delude themselves. For example, the thrust of the article is that phthalates may NOT cause reproductive problems in boys and so '...casting doubt on phthalate fears'. I sincerely hope folks don't then just assume that they're safe.

It says straight in the headline that it's an endocrine disruptor. It doesn't take a doctor to tell ya that probably ain't good (in fact, many western doctors would tell you that it's fine!)
 

Carol

Crazy like a...
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 16, 2006
Messages
20,311
Reaction score
541
Location
NH
Naphthalene derivatives are found everywhere. They may be particularly prominent in North America because of our abundance of its source: coal.

Its a component that makes plastics more flexible (ie: toys, medical supplies) and is also found in the more readily recyclable food packaging (ie: bottles of spring water).

They can cause endocrine issues in high concentrations; most people are not around them in high concentrations. For that matter, too much water can lead to health risks as well (google "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" for a story about a young mother who died of water intoxication as part of a radio contest).

When assessing the risks, another question has to be asked...what will take their place? With many ill patients contracting infections in hospitals, would we be improving the health risks of a person if we switch to medical devices that are not as disposable, or more difficult for the patient?

Is having babies and small children drinking from glass bottles worth the risk that the bottle may break, and injure the child or parent? Have other alternatives (ie: aluminum) been proven to have less health risks? What about the economic and environmental impact of mining aluminum vs. mining coal?

The media likes a good scare story, and many products have been trumped up as being dangerous when the science behind the danger was a bit dubious. (Example: see the USFDA's categorization of stevia as an "unsafe food additive" in 1991)

As consumers, we have the ability to not buy processed/packaged foods, to cook our meals in cookware that isn't coated with teflon, and to store them in paper, glass, metal, or other non-plastic containers should we choose. It may not be easy, or cheap, but its a choice.

However, I thnik the regulation and use of esters (or other compounds) such as these are best served by rigorous science, and not public whim. I went to college a few hundred feet away from the Christian Science mother church, I'd hate to have someone take away my thyroid meds because a good number of people in the neighborhood thought I didn't pray enough. ;)
 

Carol

Crazy like a...
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 16, 2006
Messages
20,311
Reaction score
541
Location
NH
Oh yes. Why its killed many people...even crumbled buildings ;)
 

Latest Discussions

Top