Some American girls are developing breasts as young as age seven, researchers have found. Although there’s no conclusive evidence as to what is causing girls to develop early signs of puberty, environmental exposure to estrogens and chemicals that mimic estrogen are among the key factors suspected. The early onset of puberty may lead to obesity, hormone imbalances and cancer.
A new study, published in the August 9, 2010, online issue of the journal Pediatrics, looked at more than 1,200 girls age six to eight examined between 2004 and 2006, in New York, Ohio and California. It compared the age when the girls showed early signs of puberty with the results of a similar study from 13 years ago.
Over that time period, the age at which girls began showing early signs of puberty decreased significantly among all races:
Among 7 year-olds, about 10.4% of white girls, 23.4% of black girls and almost 15% Hispanic girls had started developing breasts.
Among eight-year-olds, 18.3%of white girls, nearly 43% of black girls and just under 31% of Hispanic girls showed evidence of breast development.
The rate has about doubled since 1977, when 5.0% of 7 year-old white girls showed signs of breast develoopment and 15.4% of black girls. No comparison data was available for Hispanic girls.
“The proportion of girls who had breast development at ages seven and eight years, particularly among white girls, is greater than that reported from studies of girls who were born 10 to 30 years earlier,” the study’s authors concluded.
Lead author Dr. Frank Biro of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and his co-authors explained that the stage of development in which a girl’s breasts begin to “bud” is considered the onset of puberty, not her first menstrual cycle.
The average age of the first period has declined as well, says Nickel. “Girls used to get their first menstrual period at 14 or 15,” she says, but now the average is closer to 12.
Previous research on puberty, specifically the menstrual cycle, has indicated that girls who start menstruating at age 11 or younger have an increased life-long risk of breast cancer.
Suspected Cause: Environmental Exposure to Estrogens
The researchers have no conclusive evidence about what could be causing girls to develop teenage bodies earlier. They postulated that obesity could be a factor since girls who developed breasts early tended to have a higher body-mass index than those who didn’t.
New research shows that chemicals in plastics may lead to obesity, early puberty, endocrine disruption and cancer.
Chemicals in Plastics mimic Estrogen
Pollutants that mimic the female hormone estrogen might also be contributing to early puberty, said study author Dr. Frank Biro of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“Whether [they be in] food that they’ve eaten, or products that are used for personal care products, as well as products that could be used at their homes,” Biro said.
The researchers are beginning studies to determine whether environmental exposures to chemicals could be contributing to earlier puberty among girls.
Estrogenic Compounds in Plastics Linked to Cancer
Chemicals in the environment – most notably bisphenol-A (BPA), and Polythylene Terephthalate (PETE), are found in many plastic bottles widely used for water, sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, ketchup, mayonnaise, peanut butter, vinegar and just about every other food you can think of.
These estrogenic chemicals leach into the bottles’ contents and they have now been linked to the disruption of both male and female hormones and may be a significant reason for the early onset of puberty and the dramatic increase in PMS, uterine fibroids, endometriosis and breast and ovarian cancer.
Researchers at the University of Missouri found that one bottled water brand spurred a 78% increase in the growth of the breast cancer cells compared to the control sample, with 1,200 initial breast cancer cells multiplying to 32,000 in 4 days, versus only 18,000 for the control sample.
This study indicates that chemical contaminants in the bottled water sample stimulated accelerated division of cancer cells. When estrogen-blocking chemicals were added, the effect was inhibited, showing that the cancer-spurring chemicals mimic estrogen, a hormone linked to breast cancer.
While the specific chemical(s) responsible for this cancer cell proliferation were not identified in this pilot study, ingestion of endocrine-disrupting and cancer-promoting chemicals from plastics is considered a key suspect. (Naidenko O, Leiba N, Sharp R, Houlihan J. 2008. Bottled water quality investigation. Ref.: http://www.ewg.org/reports/bottledwater).
A growing body of research links PETE from plastics with a variety of adverse outcomes, including increased body fat and insulin resistance (Grün and Blumberg 2009), decreased anogenital distance in male infants (Swan et al. 2005), decreased levels of sex hormones (Pan et al. 2006), and other consequences for the human reproductive system, both for females and males (reviewed by Hauser and Calafat 2005). Infants and children may be especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of PETE (Sathyanarayana 2008).
All of this indicates that early onset of puberty and childhood obesity may be the result of environmental exposure to plastics during early childhood or from prenatal exposure during pregnancy.
Estrogens also found in Dairy products and Beef
The synthetic drug 17-beta-Estradiol is fed to beef cows in the U.S. to make them put on more weight so that they can get them to market sooner and sell for more money.
Estradiol is also concentrated in milk due to modern dairy farming techniques designed to boost milk production, including feeding cows hormones and milking pregnant cows until very late in their pregnancy.
Unfortunately, the trade-off we suffer is a higher rate of Estrogen induced disease, including cancer, which is not recognized or at least not admitted by the Dairy and Beef Industry.
Dr. Hansen’s Rx
To protect yourself and your family here’s what Dr. Hansen recommends:
1. Avoid environmental estrogen exposure wherever possible.
–-Eliminate or reduce exposure to plastics, especially PETE (Recyclable #1) and BP-A (Recyclable # 7).
–Make your own at home or look for products that come in glass jars, e.g. Apple Juice, Spaghetti Sauce, Water, etc.
–If you use bottled water, make sure not to store your bottles in your hot garage. Heating plastic bottles will greatly increase the amount of estrogenic chemicals that leach into the water or soda, etc.
–Eat beef and dairy sparingly and eat only organic beef and dairy products (hormone and antibiotic free) when you do eat them.
2. Eat Brassica family vegetables
–That means eating broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower more often. These vegetables contain Indole-3-carbinol, which activates rapid clearing of estrogens out of the body.
3. Test your hormones (Estrogens, Progesterone, Testosterone and DHEA)
–You should test their hormones regularly, especially if you have any symptoms of Endocrine Disruption, including PMS, Irregular Menstrual Cycles, Heavy Periods, Endometriosis, Uterine Fibroids, Hot Flashes, Osteopenia, Osteoporosis, etc.
4. Take natural bio-identical progesterone
–Natural progesterone counteracts the harmful effects of the environmental exposure to estrogens. Progesterone activates Tumor Suppressor Protein. Breast cancer cells do not multiply when women have a sufficient supply of progesterone. Progesterone likewise also prevents cancer of the ovaries and uterus as well as the lungs.