What if breast cancer in the United States has less to do with insurance or mammograms and more to do with contaminants in our water or air — or in certain plastic containers in our kitchens? What if the surge in asthma and childhood leukemia reflect, in part, the poisons we impose upon ourselves? Read on
By Nicholas D. Kristof
This OpEd piece was the most emailed New York Times article in the 30 days following publication-and deservedly so!
The research, accumulating over the last 50 years, was first presented to the public-at-large in a fascinating 1996 book, Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn, ph.D., with a forward by Al Gore. Dr. Colborn, a zoologist, was the first to really tie together all the weird wildlife deformities and abnormal behaviors being reported around the world: turtles born without eyes, birds with extra beaks, gender confusion in the way males and females related to their young, and on and on. Ms. Colborn discovered that the common denominator in all the cases was exposure to synthetic chemicals, particularly organochlorines, ubiquitous in plastics, pesticides and many other “essentials” of modern life. Minute amounts of these chemicals can mimic hormones in our bodies and, thus, interfere with the normal course of development — with potential effects on virtually all aspects of bodily function. They were given various labels, like “endocrine disruptors, “estrogen mimics,” “gender benders.”
Dr. Colborn warned that it was only logical that humans, too, were being affected. Unfortunately, the public was skeptical, Congress did nothing and here we are over a decade later with more evidence and no substantial change in public policy. Perhaps now the public, more attuned to the increasing rates of hormone-related cancers and man’s impact on the environment re: global climate change, is ready to listen and demand action. So bravo, Mr. Kristof. You may have ignited a movement!