Evolution or Extinction of Men

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In the past few years, a stream of studies and reports have come out about endocrine disruptors, chemicals that either mimic or block our bodies’ natural hormone signals. They are found in our food, water bottles, personal products, furniture, toys and more. Here at Lucine, we have covered the effects of endocrine disruptors on women’s health. Most notably xenoestrogens, which increase the body’s natural level of estrogen causing problems ranging from early onset puberty to breast cancer. But, what about our other half? Are these dangerous endocrine disruptors affecting men? If so, when does it start? What does it do? How can we protect our men?

Phthalates, BPA, and Parabens, OH MY!

While researching this topic, phthalates popped up over and over again. I recognized the word from my recent article, Toxic Cosmetics, but didn’t know what exactly it was or where it came from. The quick definition is that it a class of chemicals added to many products. The longer definition is that it is a chemical added to plastics to increase flexibility, transparency, durability, and to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Phthalates are found in literally everything: shampoo, soaps, children’s toys, the coating of pharmaceutical pills, glues, electronics, food, food products, paints, inks, textiles and I can go on and on with the list.

What does it do in the body? Unlike xenoestrogens, phthalates are anti-androgens and block the body from producing androgens, like testosterone, a hormone men have in abundance (women have testosterone too, just not as much). Parabens are another class of chemicals found in personal products that act as an anti-androgen in men. These chemicals combined with the xenoestrogens in our environment are causing male fish to grow eggs in their testes, female deer mice to pick males who weren’t exposed to BPA in a controlled environment, hyperactive rats (some scientist speculate that endocrine disruptors could be linked to the rise in ADHD amongst school children) and many other strange behaviors in the animal kingdom.

Baby Mine, Don’t You Cry

Our bodies are literally attacked with these harmful chemicals nonstop. There are now studies showing that it is causing physical feminization in male infants. There is a current controversy over whether or not pregnant women should take anti-depressants for post-partum depression, but one of the many side-effects of this treatment is the phthalates in the drug coating and increased exposure to the fetus. BBC reports that in a study published in the International Journal of Andrology, feminization in boys can be seen through their play habits, and on Huffington Post, a parent blogs about her 7-year-old son coming out as gay. Could this feminization be a combined effort of the mother’s diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the use of baby products with higher levels of these chemicals in order to be ‘tear free’, followed by exposure in lifestyle and diet, or merely a shift in culture?

Manly Man to Metrosexual Man to Extinction?!

What about our older men who were less exposed to these chemicals in the womb and growing up? If exposure to all the various environmental toxins inhibits the body from making testosterone and low testosterone causes erectile dysfunction in older men, is this the reason that every commercial break airs an ad for one of the many erectile function disorder drugs? What other damages are being done?

Most people associate estradiol (one of the many estrogenic hormones) with women and testosterone with men, when both sexes produce and need these hormones. Researchers are now looking at the increase in synthetic estrogens in our environment as a leading cause of prostate cancer. One major culprit is oral birth control and other pharmaceuticals in our water systems. According to a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the United Nations World Contraceptive Use, in 100 countries researchers analyzed rates of prostate cancer and oral contraceptive use among women. The report concluded that the areas with a high rate of oral contraceptive use also had a high rate of prostate cancer. Are these estrogenic and anti-androgenic chemicals changing our boys and killing our men?

While researching this topic, I came across one statistic that stated, “1 in 6 couples is infertile.” Low sperm count is another one of the many results of endocrine disruptors in our environment. A study released by the Denmark government concluded that “young men are less fertile than their fathers and produce only a third as much semen, proportionately, as hamsters.” In another study, there is evidence that the birth rate of boys is decreasing in industrial nations including Japan, US, Canada, Denmark and other European nations. And yet, in another report, evidence that men exposed to high levels of phthalates actually damaged the DNA of their sperm. Is the 2006, post-apocalyptic film, Children of Men, which takes place in a not-so-far-off future where mankind is no longer able to reproduce, just fiction or a warning tale? As we fight for women’s right to control reproduction, maybe we should also be fighting for the right to reproduce as well!

What Can YOU Do?

Knowledge is the best weapon. With knowledge we can change our lifestyle and diet to protect ourselves against some of these toxins. Because irreversible damage is done to fetuses and children, pregnant women and parents should be vigilant in researching and choosing what they eat and products they use in their family. Spread the word! Tell the men in your life about the research covered in this article. I know my brothers and boyfriend pay more attention to convenience and cost rather than ingredients, so I show them how easy it is to replace everyday items like plastic water bottles and food containers with more environmentally and health friendly products like a water filter that removes pharmaceutical residues, glass or steal reusable water bottles, and reusable glass food containers. Keep in mind it isn’t just one thing that is causing these changes in our bodies – it’s the accumulation of these chemicals. Little changes in our everyday life can make big differences in our health, mother earth, and the survival of man.

Further Reading on Lucine:

Endocrine Disruptors in Personal Products:
Toxic Cosmetics
Kitchen Cosmetics
Is Your Deodorant Linked to Breast Cancer?
Phthalates in Medication Coatings

Endocrine Disrupters in the Environment:
Milk, it Does a Body Good?
Early Onset of Puberty
Could This be a Contributor to Weight Gain?
Chemical Toxins in Commonly Used Herbicides


Lisbeth Prifogle is a freelance writer, Marine officer, and globetrotter currently in San Diego, CA. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles and a BA from DePauw University. Lisbeth spent six months in Iraq and is working on a memoir about her experiences. She keeps a blog titled The Next Bold Move www.lisbethprifogle.com and her work can be found in the 11th issue of Poem Memoir Story, The Splinter Generation, and In the Know Travel. Lisbeth has had problems balancing hormones since she was a teenager and is constantly researching and exploring natural remedies including diet, exercise, and alternative medicines.


  1. It’s my opinion that homosexuality is caused by hormonal dysfunction. AKA men having too much estrogen and/or not producing enough testosterone, and women with too much testosterone instead of estrogen. This makes perfect sense to me and I want to know why nobody else is talking about it. In the case of transgender people there may be more going on from a psychological perspective. There is also the effect of social conditioning that I think should be considered. But the first course of action from a compassionate society should be for the medical and psychiatric professions to be analyzing and working to offer to help correct the hormone balance of gay people back towards what it should be naturally. Not everybody who is gay wants to be gay. Some people actually get really distressed and depressed over it.

    In the case of transgendered people, the first course of action from the medical profession I think, should be to again try and correct endocrine malfunction by prescribing hormone replacement therapy that corresponds to the sex the person was given at birth. I think this should be a required course of action for a minimum of 6 to 12 months prior to consideration of putting someone who identifies as transgendered on hormones for the opposite sex. The reason is that the life altering effects could potentially have unintended consequences, or doom these people to living the rest of their lives as awkwardly unnatural persons; incapable of reproducing; essentially making them sterile. Besides that, I think the mental factor is huge. Hormones are powerful things. They motivate and stimulate animals to reproduce though instinct.

    If a person has a hormonal system is reversed 180 degrees from that which is supposed to match their birth gender, they may have no other point of reference to comprehend what they would feel like if things were “normal”. Therefore it only makes sense to me that their orientation of what is normal and feels like becomes controlled physically, mentally, and emotionally by the dominant hormones in control; and brain function begins to mirror, match and align with the corresponding opposite gender. To me this is only common sense. But of course this is my opinion. It makes perfect sense to me. To add on top of it all, perhaps some peoples hormone systems are more sensitive to the gender bending chemicals than others, making them more vulnerable and susceptible to being affected by them even into adulthood. Some groups, theoretically could also be genetically pre-dispositioned to being more or less vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals giving them a distinct advantage or disadvantage in their ability to mate and reproduce with members of the opposite sex.

    In the end I think this could even have far reaching detrimental effects on the so called “diversity” factor, so valued and defended in western culture. Because if one or more races become physically dominant over one or more of the others as a result of this passivization and ‘softening’ of men, then the aggressive actions and behavior of one group upon another could very well spell out the extinction or reduction to minority status of an entire race. I am of course referring to the white race, as I have noticed a proportionately higher and increasing number of gay white men and women in America over the past 20 years, and it doesn’t seem like the trend is stopping but increasing. As a result, less whites are reproducing. This is actually a fact that has already been illustrated by census bureau statistics. I know there are other factors involved in the drop in birth rates in industrialized countries. All I’m saying is that this topic is a possible factor that I have never heard discussed. To me it seems that this is a growing problem that needs to be addressed in a more public fashion by the media in this country. But somehow I highly doubt that the liberal media is going to do it. Unfortunately it seems though that the far right is more inclined to demonize the LGBTQ community based upon religious christian dogma that it is to have some compassion through considering for once that homosexuality could actually be caused by an endocrine disease that is not at all the fault of the people who experience it. I just want this topic to make it out into public forums to be discussed, considered and then hopefully researched and explored by medical science.

  2. Finally. Women are finally working to correct the deficit of natural manliness in society; as a man, I was wondering how long they’d put up with all the bullshit girly-men. The wild thing is that large scale endocrine disruption (which probably negates adult male characteristics more so than it negates adult female characteristics) appears to be skewing behavoir on the world stage (politics, etc.).

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Very well written article. It was a serious eye opener and provides a deeper understanding into the hormonal effects that are plaguing both our men and women. As a guy I can definitely relate to someone the information. I think any male can read this article and see differences between himself, his father, and his grand father. My knowledge of this subject, before reading this, extended only as far as soy products. Thank you for providing me with a deeper understand. You are absolutely right when you say that knowledge is the best weapon.

  4. This is good information. I shared this article with my boyfriend. It’s scary to think that the accumulation of all these chemicals are slowly building up within our bodies. Plastic is accumulating in the gyres, being eaten by fish, and most likely being absorbed into our blood streams. And that’s just the plastic!

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