Eating chicken during pregnancy may affect the size and development of one’s son’s penis due to phthalate contamination of the meat.
The top three sources of industrial toxins in the diet are fish oil, fish, and eggs.
Sexual selection may have also played a role in penis size. According to the best available science, three quarters of women find both penile length and girth, somewhat or very important.
What does this have to do with diet?
“Phthalates are [chemical] compounds that are used in a wide range of consumer products, [including pesticides, paints, and PVC plastic]. However, the contribution of dietary intake to phthalate exposure has not been well defined.”
What the problem with phthalate exposure? "Effects on sexual health and development have been observed in recent human studies."
We’ve known phthalates affect the genital development of lab rats, but for the first time ever, human data has been published.
Simple study. They measured the levels of phlatates flowing through the bodies of pregnant women, and then later measured the size and characteristics of their infant sons genitals after birth between ages 2 months to 3 years. The women who had the most exposure had up to 10 times the odds of giving birth to sons with one or both testicles incompletely descended, their scrotum categorized as small and/or “not distinct from surrounding tissue,” and a significantly smaller penis volume, a measure of penis size taking into account both length and girth.
In other words, the more phthalates pregnant women are exposed to, the increased likelihood of testicular maldescent, a small and indistinct scrotum, and smaller penis size.”
They conclude: “These changes in male infants, associated with prenatal exposure to some of the same phthalate metabolites that cause similar alterations in male rodents, suggest that commonly used phthalates may undervirilize humans as well as rodents.”
So what foods should pregnant women stay away from to avoid the phthalate-related syndrome of incomplete virilization?
The urine levels of thousands of Americans all across the country were measured, along with their diets, to find out food most significantly correlated the phthalate exposure within the body.
They looked at dairy, eggs, fish, fruit, poultry, potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables in general, and red meat. Statistically, the most significant result in their analysis was poultry consumption.
So for example, “In one analysis, while total dairy consumption was significantly associated with one of the phthalate chemicals, called MCPP, and eggs with another, poultry consumption was a significant predictor of levels of all of the individual DEHP metabolites, MEHP, MEHHP, MEOHP, MECCP, etc., etc., etc..
“suggesting… that an increase of one ounce of poultry per day is associated with an increase in one of the pthalate metabolite levels of approximately 5.7%. A single chicken breast is nearly 8 ounces.
Maybe it was just leaching into the meat from the plastic wrap packaging? Probably not. “the finding that egg consumption is significantly associated with levels of phthalates too, suggests that chickens themselves may be contaminated and that food is not being contaminated just through packaging and processing.
So if there is one thing pregnant women may want to avoid during pregnancy to protect their son’s normal development it would be to avoid poultry.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.
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Swan SH, Main KM, Liu F, Stewart SL, Kruse RL, Calafat AM, Mao CS, Redmon JB, Ternand CL, Sullivan S, Teague JL; Study for Future Families Research Team. Decrease in anogenital distance among male infants with prenatal phthalate exposure. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Aug;113(8):1056-61.
Cho SC, Bhang SY, Hong YC, Shin MS, Kim BN, Kim JW, Yoo HJ, Cho IH, Kim HW. Relationship between environmental phthalate exposure and the intelligence of school-age children. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Jul;118(7):1027-32.
Stahlhut RW, van Wijngaarden E, Dye TD, Cook S, Swan SH. Concentrations of urinary phthalate metabolites are associated with increased waist circumference and insulin resistance in adult U.S. males. Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Jun;115(6):876-82.
Hauser R, Meeker JD, Singh NP, Silva MJ, Ryan L, Duty S, Calafat AM. DNA damage in human sperm is related to urinary levels of phthalate monoester and oxidative metabolites. Hum Reprod. 2007 Mar;22(3):688-95.
Adibi JJ, Hauser R, Williams PL, Whyatt RM, Calafat AM, Nelson H, Herrick R, Swan SH. Maternal urinary metabolites of Di-(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate in relation to the timing of labor in a US multicenter pregnancy cohort study. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Apr 15;169(8):1015-24
Kim BN, Cho SC, Kim Y, Shin MS, Yoo HJ, Kim JW, Yang YH, Kim HW, Bhang SY, Hong YC. Phthalates exposure and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in school-age children. Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Nov 15;66(10):958-63.
Images thanks to aleksas, baalands, Ariusz and Renee Comet at the National Cancer Institute. And a very special thanks to Stephen Walsh (author of the fabulous Plant Based Nutrition and Health), for his time, effort, and patience working with me to improve this video and associated blog.
For more on phthalates and other endocrine disruptors, check out these more recent videos:
Alkylphenol Endocrine Disruptors and Allergies
Dietary Sources of Alkylphenol Endocrine Disruptors
Estrogen in Meat, Dairy, and Eggs
Male Fertility and Diet
Preventing Asthma With Fruits and Vegetables
Protein, Puberty, and Pollutants
Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!
For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: NutritionFacts.org: the first month, Eating chicken may lead to a smaller penis, Pollutants in Californian Breast Tissue, and Heading Shrinking from Grilling Meat
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