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This article is from Issue 58: Jul/Aug 2012

Your Food Is Changing You

How the hormones in what you eat can affect your health

More than likely, you are taking birth control pills without knowing it.

Almost every girl in America has been taking them for years by the time she reaches kindergarten. It’s not as if preschool workers are making girls swallow
little pink pills before naptime. No, the plan is much better than that.

How do the birth control pills get into the little girls? Americans eat a lot of meat, and they drink a lot of milk. And as the saying goes, you are what you eat. For decades, the milk production of cows has been augmented by feeding them hormones to stimulate their breasts. When a cow gets its morning dose of Posilac, her breast tissue goes into overdrive. Some of the hormone makes its way into the milk little girls across
America pour on their morning cereal. The Posilac makes its way to those girls’ sex organs.

In addition, most cattle are fed a steady diet of antibiotics and hormones. Many believe the drugs are given to treat disease, but the cattle are given the hormones and antibiotics even if they are perfectly healthy. The real incentive is faster weight gain. Two-thirds of the beef cattle raised in the U.S. have a hormone chip placed in their ear for the last six months of their lives. The implant supplies a steady dose of estrogen, progesterone and other drugs that stimulate the average cow to gain up to 40 pounds on the same amount of food. This is why hormone-and-antibiotic-free meats and dairy products cost more.

But meat, milk and cheese aren’t the only ways bioactive chemicals are introduced into what people consume.

Plastics—especially the soft ones, like water bottles—contain chemicals called phthalates that act as endocrine disrupters. Heat these containers and they release even more chemicals. The plastic and Styrofoam contain a hormone that looks and acts like female sex hormones. There are so many of these substances being washed into the environment that scientists say fish and amphibians are changing over to female genotypes. In other words, these creatures respond to the sea of hormones and become females even if they were supposed to be males.