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Thursday, June 11

How much beef, soy, and beer had Bruce Jenner consumed? Or If Lewis Carroll fails to square a circle there's always the French



The photo of Olympian Bruce Jenner, taken of him at a fast food eatery in Malibu in 2014 for (U.K.) Mail Online, is the limit of my research on his food preferences.  But if his diet over the course of decades was anything like the typical American male's since the 1950s, there could be a very objective reason he said that he'd felt like a woman trapped in a man's body. 

When one even tries to imagine the humongous amounts of estrogen in the American diet and huge number of personal care products containing chemicals that suppress testosterone, it's a wonder the American male hasn't grown ovaries.  

Females are also negatively affected by excess estrogen but the consequences for males have been devastating.  Their sperm count has crashed according to Ori Hofmekler:
"We’re on the fast track to extinction. In the past 50 years, sperm counts in men have dropped 50 percent, while the average man’s testosterone and sperm count has plummeted 20 percent in just the last 20 years.”
Hofmekler, an artist and political satirist and former soldier in the Israeli Special Forces, took up an interest in nutrition and the negative effects of excess estrogen and wrote a book, The Anti-Estrogenic Diet: How Estrogenic Foods and Chemicals Are Making You Fat and Sick that brought great attention to the over-abundance of estrogen in foods.  My glance around the internet indicates that since the 2007 publication of the book the topic has been done to death.  

See for example Dr Joel Axe's crash course on YouTube: 


Also:  Mark David's undated article 8 Ways Society is Feminizing the Human Male for the hopefully titled website End All Disease, and Martha Rosenberg's April 13. 2014 offering for Alternet (via Salon), 4 otherwise healthy foods crammed with estrogen.  

If you have only a passing familiarity with the topic, as I did until 48 hours ago, there are some big surprises delivered in the sources I've featured here.  Who knew -- 
Hummus (from chickpeas) has 993 micrograms of estrogen per 100 grams. How about the “healthful” seeds we think of as mingled in trailmix? Sesame and sunflower seeds are among the highest of all estrogenic foods.
Or that --
“Prior to the German Beer Purity Act of 1516, beer almost never contained hops.”
If beer lovers are groaning, wait until you read the rest of the bad news in Mark David's "Beer" section (No. 4).  

By the time Hofmekler, Axe, David, and Rosenberg get finished talking about estrogen (each contributes fascinating information the others don't, you'll appreciate these observations by Rosenberg:
It is no secret that our bodies and our environment are swimming in estrogen. Puberty is occurring as early as eight years old in children and recently babies in China have developed breasts. Frogs and fish are becoming “intersex” and losing their male characteristics from excreted estrogens in the environment and waterways.
[...] 
Most of us know we unwittingly get synthetic estrogens (endocrine disrupters) from plastics like BPA, petroleum based products, detergents, cosmetics, furniture, carpeting, thermal receipts and on our food from agriculture chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and fungicides (a good reason to buy organic).
But we also get a lot of “natural” estrogens from foods we may eat every day. While these “phytoestrogens” are not as bad as synthetic chemicals, women who are plagued with PMS, fibrocystic disease and water retention, or who are at risk for breast cancer and men who do not want to be feminized may want to use them moderately.
As you can see, this estrogenization of human society isn't limited to the United States, but the American male has been hit very hard because the lifestyle and diet that generate the estrogen environment have been most prevalent for the longest in the USA. 

With regard to the long-running debate about the safety of hormones implanted in beef cattle, the opposing sides are dug into their positions. (See Myth: Hormone Use In Beef Production Is A Health Concern and Growth Hormones Fed to Beef Cattle Damage Human Health for an overview of the debate. Martha Rosenberg's article also briefly addresses the debate. which boils down to whether and how much hormone residues are present in the cattle slaughtered for human consumption.
      
An authoritative discussion of the issues was prepared by Sprecher Institute For Comparative Cancer Research, Program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk (BCERF), Cornell University, in Fact Sheet No. 37, Consumer Concerns About Hormones in Food (June 2000).  

The BCERF discussion, presented in a Q&A format and written for the layperson, is necessarily focused on concerns that hormones added to food can increase the risk of breast cancer. But again and again across the range of questions, the answers include the observation that more research needs to be done, that evidence doesn't exist to answer a question.  Under the "Conclusions" section the authors write:
Studies done so far do not provide evidence to state that hormone residues in meat or dairy products cause any human health effects. However, a conclusion on lack of human health effect can only be made after large-scale studies compare the health of people who eat meat or dairy products from hormone-treated animals, to people who eat a similar diet, but from untreated animals.
The statement and focus of the Q&A point to why the debate goes round and round in the USA, decade after decade  A study published in 2007 finds there are definitely negative health effects.  (See Growth Hormones Fed to Beef Cattle Damage Human Health for a summary of the findings -- but these relate to reproductive health, not breast cancer.

The study, titled  "Semen quality of fertile US males in relation to their mothers' beef consumption during pregnancy" (S.H. Swan et al.) was published in the journal Human Reproduction and concluded: 
"These findings suggest that maternal beef consumption is associated with lower sperm concentration and possible subfertility, associations that may be related to the presence of anabolic steroids and other xenobiotics in beef."
Ah, but that's not the question.  It is How much hormone residue is in found in beef bought in the meat section of the grocery store?  And can just that little residue, should it exist, cause harm to human health?  The BCERF answers somewhat wearily:  we don't have enough evidence, one way or another, to provide definitive answers.    

Thus, we arrive once again at the ground zero of this age, which is at once kaleidoscopic and mirage-like. 
  



From that vantage point the resolution to the debate is perfectly clear: we must reason things out in the manner of the French.  Because no one can possibly calculate how much estrogen each person is exposed to on a daily basis, of course we ban the use of hormones in cattle. Voilà!

[leafing through 15th Century recipes for beer making]  Next.  

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