Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Endocrine Disruptors and Childhood Diseases

More from the lecture I attended on Monday, which focused on the tandem increase of synthetic chemicals and childhood diseases:

Over the last decade, endocrine disruptors and their effect on our health have become better understood.

“Ten years ago, endocrine disruptors were a fringe concept,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, Director of Mount Sinai’s Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC). “Now, their importance is accepted.”

Landrigan went on to give a quasi-official definition of endocrine disruptors that even he admitted was incomprehensible. Instead, he offered this simplified description:
“Endocrine disruptors are synthetic chemicals in the environment that get into the human body and disrupt the signaling of one cell to another. If this endocrine signaling is disrupted, disease can result.”
Landrigan and his team are studying the effects of Bisphenol-A (BPA) (found in aluminum cans and plastics), phthalates (plastics), pesticides (food) and perchlorate (many industrial uses, found in drinking and ground water).

The use of these synthetic chemicals has mushroomed since World War II and our kids have become sicker and sicker over that time period. Some facts from the CEHC web site:

  • Asthma rates have nearly tripled in the past three decades.
  • One of every six American children has a development disorder (ADHD, dyslexia, mental retardation).
  • One in every 150 American children is now diagnosed with autism.
  • Cancer, after accidents, is the leading cause of death among children in the United States.
  • Primary brain cancer increased by nearly 40% and leukemia increased by over 60% among children 14 years and younger from 1975 to 2004.
  • Childhood obesity has quadrupled in the past 10 years.
According to Landrigan, there is some good news, though.

"Unlike genetic diseases," he said, "environmental disease can be prevented.”

Don’t we owe it to our kids to become more familiar with these issues? Click here to visit the Children’s Environmental Health Center’s web site.

1 comment:

Bryan said...

A very thoughtful post, that was so nice of you. these are indeed very informative and can be pass on our next generation.