(Article Medically Reviewed By Dr. Zach Hyde)
How Plastics Cause Hormonal Chaos in Men
That was the year that the very first plastic, Bakelite, was introduced to the market.
Since then, polyethylene, polyvinyl, polyurethane, and many other plastics have come to join them.
Nowadays, plastics are in virtually every single product (or product packaging) in the world.
And just as science is slowly realizing what it’s doing to our environment, men are slowly realizing what it’s doing to their hormones.
Plastics and Testosterone (The Real Danger)
I know how it sounds when you first hear someone say that plastics are affecting your testosterone levels.
When I was told, I immediately filed the information away in the “tin foil hat” region of my brain.
Then – as I often do – I started coming across more and more science supporting what I’d heard.
At the same time, I started to think more about what plastics actually are.
Remember, most plastics are either fully or semi-synthetic, and those that are the latter are almost always derived from fossil fuels like petroleum and natural gas.
More than that – plastic is everywhere.
And because it’s used in food packaging, drinking containers, and eating utensils, any chemicals in that plastic are sooner or later going to end up in you.
Gonad Toxins in Plastic
Phthalates – Phthalates are compounds derived from phthalic acid. They are the component in plastics that makes them soft, flexible, and moldable.
Since this feature is one of the main reasons plastics are so omnipresent in our world, they can be found in virtually all plastic-related products.
Unfortunately, studies like this one have found this unpronounceable putty to be directly linked to delayed puberty in both girls and boys.
If prolonged, this would create a cycle in which T levels would continue to decline until the testicles fell into an atrophied state.
Bisphenol A (BPA) – If you’ve driven by a Whole Foods in recent months, you’ve probably heard some negative talk about BPAs.
And while you may not agree with everything the hipsters say, they aren’t wrong on this one.
You see, according to research, BPAs are linked to lower testosterone levels, increased estrogen, and even the development of some feminine characteristics in animals.
Another study compared the T levels of men who worked in a BPA manufacturing plant to those of men who worked in a plant that manufactured tap water.
After six months, the men who had been in contact with BPA displayed significantly lower levels of free testosterone in their blood.
But you don’t need to be working in a factory to be exposed to this stuff, because BPA can be found in the microplastics on your dinner plate.
As if this weren’t bad enough, it might also interest you to know that BPA functions very similarly to estrogen in the body. Speaking of which…
Xenoestrogens – These chemicals are used in the manufacturing process for a number of plastic and plastic-related products.
They are so named because they mimic the effects of exogenous estrogen in the bodies of both males and females.
As you should already know, testosterone and estrogen exist in a constant state of hormonal balance inside your body – you can’t add one without losing the other.
And since study after study shows that these endocrine disruptors are in almost every product you touch, avoiding them (and their effects) is virtually impossible.
What effects, you ask?
Well, in fish, the consequences of exposure ranged from delayed spermatogenesis to reduced sperm production.
There was also a major decrease in the health of the sperm that was produced, with major setbacks in motility and function being observed.
Lastly, the animals (Spottail Shiners) went on to display a high level of intersexuality, meaning that they started to develop the characteristics of both sexes.
Plastic Exposure In Men
I don’t know you personally, but I’m guessing it’s safe to assume that you don’t actually eat plastic.
I only mention it because many people use the fact that plastic isn’t something they put directly into their bodies as reason to not have to worry about the effects of the aforementioned chemicals.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, because…
Packaging Doesn’t Stay in the Package
I already mentioned that plastics are made of chemicals. Well, what do you think happens to those chemicals when they’re packaged around food that’s loaded with benzoates and phosphorics?
That’s right: it leeches out of the bottle, wrapper, or whatever, into the food and into you.
And it doesn’t even have to be a highly acidic beverage like soda, though that’s certainly a major culprit.
Indeed, one study found that bottled water was absolutely loaded with phthalates.
In fact, of the 18 samples that the researchers analyzed, 11 of them induced a significant estrogenic response in the subjects.
So while microwaving frozen foods (which are usually plastic containers in plastic film) is like mainlining phthalates into your body, drinking cold soda out of a plastic cup also poses a risk.
Plastics and Testosterone (Avoidance is Not Easy)
In the introduction to this article, I was quite deliberate in pointing out how omnipresent plastics are in our global society.
That was because I have some bad news for you: there’s no way to completely avoid plastics.
From medical supplies to food packaging to the keyboard or phone you’re likely touching right now, it is simply impossible to avoid plastics altogether.
But there are some crucial steps that you can take to reduce the effects plastics have on you.
The first is to avoid drinking bottled water and soda.
There are plenty of containers out there made of ceramic and metal, and they’re a much smarter option in the long run.
I also recommend you switch to wooden cooking utensils and a metal water bottle, as water exposure and plastic touching hot food are the most likely sources of contamination.
And start saving glass jars and store your food in them as opposed to plastic containers.
Also, if you’re the “lazy guy” who likes to microwave a few Lean Cuisines every now and then – stop.
Not only are you loading your body with phthalates, BPA, and xenoestrogens, but all those chemical preservatives won’t do your testosterone levels any good either.
Plastics and Testosterone Conclusion:
Without getting overly “green” on you, I do feel it’s time to admit that our addiction to convenience and cost-saving has caused irreparable damage to our environment.
Go to a beach anywhere in the world, and you’ll see plastic practically everywhere.
Now, imagine that this beach is your bloodstream, and those bottles, wrappers, and food containers are doing to your hormones what they’re doing to the coastlines of the world.
Trust me: plastics have to go.
The first step to accomplishing this is to remove all non essential plastics out of your life and your environment.
Then do what your great, great grandparents did and store your food in glass, cook in metal or ceramic containers and stir the pot with wooden utensils.
And if you see a bottle of water or soda sitting on the shelf in a flimsy plastic container?
Take a pass.