Americans are walking chemical cocktails according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Organochlorine pesticides tend to build up in animal fat (see for example, Cannibalistic Feed Biomagnification, Avoiding Other Banned Pesticides, and Industrial Carcinogens in Animal Fat) so we tend to think of meat, eggs, and dairy as being the most heavily contaminated, but there are concerning levels found in some plant foods too. See, for example, my 1-min video Pesticides in Chinese Bamboo Shoots. I don’t know which is worse, the fact that researchers found nine different pesticide residues in cans of bamboo shoots imported from China, or that they described it as “only” nine.
Nearly all canned foods contain the chemical BPA, which has recently been linked to erectile dysfunction in men. In my 2-min. video BPA Plastic and Male Sexual Dysfunction I profile a study that concluded: “Increasing urine BPA level was associated with decreased sexual desire, more difficulty having an erection, lower ejaculation strength, and lower level of overall satisfaction with sex life.” The only fresh, non-canned food found contaminated with BPA was sliced turkey.
I’ve previously covered BPA in Which Plastics Are Harmful?, where I detail which “numbers” of plastic are probably safest. My other video on plastics chemicals similarly found particularly high levels in poultry. Eden Foods is one of the few manufacturers that doesn’t use BPA. See my blog about their canned beans: Do Eden Beans Have Too Much Iodine?
For more on male sexual health see Xenoestrogens & Sperm Counts, Watermelon As Treatment For Erectile Dysfunction, and my two prostate enlargement series Prostate Versus Plants and Prostate vs. a Plant-Based Diet.
Measuring urine levels of industrial toxins is more useful than measuring food levels, since it indicates how much of the pollutants are actually absorbed into the body. In one sense it tells you what kind of levels are circulating in your body and at the same time it tells you how much your body is able to successfully get rid of. Ideally we’d like to measure levels in human tissues to see, for example, how much is actually lodged in one’s breast tissue.
Well, people get breast surgery all the time–why not test surgical samples of removed tissue? Women get fibroids removed; we can test those. We could get data from fresh autopsy samples from accident victims, and hey, what about liposuction? In my 2-min. video Pollutants in Californian Breast Tissue I compare the levels of fire retardant chemicals (polybromated diphenyl ethers) in the breast tissue of California women to various tissue samples taken from women in Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Hong Kong, Japan, New York City, Singapore, and Spain.
Do we wish they could all be California? No. The breast tissue of California women had nearly 10 times more than women in any other country, and compared to the lowest levels—autopsy samples of Japanese women— New Yorker liposuction had a hundred times higher levels. Sounds like they’re eating more than just big apples. Other than pet food and fish, which may be most contaminated, where do flame retardant chemicals (PBDE) and polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCN) concentrate in the American food supply? Find out in my NutritionFacts.org video pick above. Hint: Our Thanksgiving bird takes another hit.
Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: Mark A. Vargas / Flickr