Estrogen in Water Supply Increasing Natural Human Levels, Kills Fish

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    Feb 19, 2008 8:22 AM GMT
    This is rather disconcerting for us guys, especially as athletes who thrive off testosterone to help us build muscle, etc. What do you all think?

    Study Confirms Estrogen in Water from the Pill Devastating to Fish Populations

    By Hilary White

    ST. JOHN, New Brunswick, February 18, 2008 ( - A study by Dr. Karen Kidd, of the University of New Brunswick and the Canadian Rivers Institute, found that estrogen from birth control pills flooding into the water system through sewage adversely affects fish populations.

    The researchers added estrogen to an experimental lake at a level commonly found in the treated wastewater from cities with about 200,000 people. The researchers discovered that one consequence is that exposed male fish become feminized, producing a protein normally found in females. Chronic exposure to estrogen led to the near extinction of the lake's fathead minnow population, as well as significant declines in larger fish, such as pearl dace and lake trout.

    "We've known for some time that estrogen can adversely affect the reproductive health of fish, but ours was the first study to show the long-term impact on the sustainability of wild fish populations," explains Kidd.

    "What we demonstrated is that estrogen can wipe out entire populations of small fish - a key food source for larger fish whose survival could in turn be threatened over the longer term."

    Kidd also noted that once the estrogen levels in the water were lowered, fish populations rebounded after three years. "Once you take the stressor out the system, we now have ample evidence that suggests affected fish populations will recover," she said.

    Kidd is preparing a report for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) titled, "From Kitchen Sinks to Ocean Basins: Emerging Chemical Contaminants and Human Health".

    In the 1980's and 90's, municipalities in Canada and elsewhere began stencilling pictures of fish next to storm drains to remind citizens that toxic chemicals - such as paint and motor oil - poured into the sewers would harm the environment and wildlife. In 1998, a trendy industrial designer in San Francisco won an award for creating storm drain grates shaped like fish.

    Health authorities estimate that 100 million women worldwide take some form of hormonal contraceptives; but there is still little media attention given to the growing concerns of scientists about its environmental impact. However, studies are leaking out into the mainstream press more frequently as public interest in the environment grows.

    The Pill, along with numerous other commonly used chemicals, end up in the water system as estrogen. At a conference on breast cancer in Toronto in 1998, author and cancer surgeon Dr. Susan Love said, "Pollutants are metabolized in our bodies as estrogen. And it is lifetime exposure to estrogen that has increased world cancer rates by 26% since 1980....We live in a toxic soup of chemicals".

    Studies are also showing significant evidence for a link between environmental estrogens and estrogen-like chemical pollutants and the earlier onset of puberty in girls.

    The phenomenon of early-onset puberty in American girls is so pervasive, that the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society urged changing the definition of abnormal development. Ten years ago, breast development at age 8 was considered abnormally early, but a study in 1997 said that among 17,000 girls in North Carolina, almost half of blacks and 15 percent of whites had begun breast development by age 8. Studies from the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand have shown similar results.

    The new definition for abnormally early breast development ought to be, the society says, 7 for white girls and 6 for black girls. Marcia Herman-Giddens, adjunct professor at the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, said, "My fear is that medical groups could take the data and say 'This is normal. We don't have to worry about it.' My feeling is that it is not normal. It's a response to an abnormal environment."

    Conclusive studies are difficult to conduct, however, because of the all-pervasive nature of the environmental contamination. With all the estrogen-like elements in the environment, Herman-Giddens said, "it's virtually impossible to study. There's no place to find an unexposed population."

    Read related coverage:

    Hormonal Contraceptives Pollute Drinking Water - Environmentalists Turn a Blind Eye
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 19, 2008 10:33 AM GMT
    gosh interesting to see this surfacing your side of the pond. It was news here about three or more years ago. The study then concluded not so much killing fish but reducing the number of male spawn, I also think there was a degree of changed sexuality and the fish were not breeding.

    Havent heard anything on it in a while but both the pill and HRT were allegedly responsible.

    This was seen to be accountable for the dwindling fertility rates and sperm production. Havent heard anything since on this until now
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    Feb 19, 2008 4:13 PM GMT
    This is kind of my area of research. The frightening thing is that this extends beyond just fertility, but in mice it has shown an increase in neurodegenerative diseases, cancers, diabetes and obesity. EE2 and xeno-estrogens are a MAJOR problem. We should be expending at least as much energy to combat this as we do global warming.
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    Feb 19, 2008 7:26 PM GMT
    Speaking of Estrogen, I read somewhere that plastic containers give off low levels of synthetic estrogen, which leeches into what's in the container, be it water, soda, juice, or whatever. Supposedly it is removed from the body by the kidneys, but who knows if there would be a cumulative effect, when combined with other exposures, such as through the tap water.
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    Feb 19, 2008 7:28 PM GMT
    Yeah it is called Bisphenol A and it seems to be very dangerous. It changes the methylation pattern on DNA causing heritable tumors, which is something new. It also can cause non-disjunction in females leading to more birth defects. It's freaky. Don't leave your nalgenes in the sun. And don't microwave your tupperware!
  • DiverScience

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    Feb 19, 2008 7:37 PM GMT
    Estrogen is interconverted with tesosterone. Having synthetic estrogens (most of which are MUCH more of a danger because of wierd non-estrogenic reactions than because they're estrogens) in your water is not going to make you grow boobs. If anything, it's more likely to slightly increase your testosterone levels. Since male bodies tend to convert excess estrogen to testosterone.

    The only danger of reduced testosterone is if there's enough estrogen in the water that your body adjusts and compensates by making less estrogen. In which case if you stop drinking the water, then your estrogen, and correspondingly, your testosterone will drop.
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    Feb 20, 2008 1:20 AM GMT
    Here's an informative article I found on which water bottles are safe to use.....
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    Apr 06, 2008 5:41 AM GMT
    I figured the fish would just grow tits. Did they die from PMS?