Chicken Consumption & the Feminization of Male Genitalia

Chicken Consumption & the Feminization of Male Genitalia
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Eating chicken during pregnancy may affect the size and development of one’s son’s penis due to phthalate contamination of the meat.

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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 that have to do with diet?

Phthalates.

“Phthalates are [chemical] compounds…used in a wide range of consumer products [including pesticides, paints, PVC plastic]. However, the contribution of dietary intake to phthalate exposure has not been well defined.” Until now.

What’s 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 phthalate flowing through the bodies of pregnant women, and then later measured the size and characteristics of their infant sons’ genitals after birth, between ages two months to three years.

There was one phthalate particularly associated with a smaller penis: mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, MEHP. The researcher concludes: “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…”

So, what foods should pregnant women stay away from to decrease their phthalate exposure in hopes of avoiding 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 which foods most significantly correlated with phthalate body burden.

They looked at dairy, eggs, fish, fruit, poultry, potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables in general, and red meat. The food associated with the greatest exposure to phthalates was poultry consumption.

So, for example, in one analysis, while total dairy consumption was significantly associated with one of the phthalate chemicals, it was the eggs and the poultry consumption, in particular, that was a significant predictor of levels of MEHP, as well as total phthalates.

This is consistent with what’s been found measuring phthalate levels directly in foods. Yes, there’s some in other meat products, fish, fats, oils, and milk, but poultry was the worst, “suggesting…that an increase of one ounce of poultry per day is associated with an increase in DHP metabolite levels of approximately 5.7%.” A single chicken breast can be eight ounces.

And one of those metabolites is MEHP, the phthalate most closely tied to small penis size in infant boys. In fact, that was the most statistically significant finding in the whole study—the correlation between poultry consumption and MEHP. In addition to a smaller penis, MEHP appears to increase the odds of boys later growing breasts, 25-fold, and then decreased testosterone later in life. Now, look, just because you have a smaller penis doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less masculine, as was widely reported.

But there was actually a study published last year showing that the phthalates found in chicken were significantly associated with less masculine behavior in boys, such as playing less with trucks, and more with dolls, for example. The chicken phthalates have also been associated with increased odds of Caesarean section, diminished child intelligence (particularly in boys), attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, later in life, abdominal obesity, altered thyroid function, damaged sperm, and, as we learned this summer, a lower sperm count.

Why is chicken so contaminated? Maybe it’s just leaching into the meat from the plastic wrap packaging? Probably not. The finding that egg consumption is significantly associated with levels of the penis-shrinking MEHP suggests that chickens themselves may be contaminated, and that food is not being contaminated just through packaging and processing.

Maybe it’s in the feed? Phthalates have been intentionally fed to chickens in hopes of decreasing the cholesterol levels in their muscles and eggs, but it didn’t work.

Regardless, if there is one thing pregnant women may want to avoid during pregnancy to protect their sons’ 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

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.

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 that have to do with diet?

Phthalates.

“Phthalates are [chemical] compounds…used in a wide range of consumer products [including pesticides, paints, PVC plastic]. However, the contribution of dietary intake to phthalate exposure has not been well defined.” Until now.

What’s 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 phthalate flowing through the bodies of pregnant women, and then later measured the size and characteristics of their infant sons’ genitals after birth, between ages two months to three years.

There was one phthalate particularly associated with a smaller penis: mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, MEHP. The researcher concludes: “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…”

So, what foods should pregnant women stay away from to decrease their phthalate exposure in hopes of avoiding 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 which foods most significantly correlated with phthalate body burden.

They looked at dairy, eggs, fish, fruit, poultry, potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables in general, and red meat. The food associated with the greatest exposure to phthalates was poultry consumption.

So, for example, in one analysis, while total dairy consumption was significantly associated with one of the phthalate chemicals, it was the eggs and the poultry consumption, in particular, that was a significant predictor of levels of MEHP, as well as total phthalates.

This is consistent with what’s been found measuring phthalate levels directly in foods. Yes, there’s some in other meat products, fish, fats, oils, and milk, but poultry was the worst, “suggesting…that an increase of one ounce of poultry per day is associated with an increase in DHP metabolite levels of approximately 5.7%.” A single chicken breast can be eight ounces.

And one of those metabolites is MEHP, the phthalate most closely tied to small penis size in infant boys. In fact, that was the most statistically significant finding in the whole study—the correlation between poultry consumption and MEHP. In addition to a smaller penis, MEHP appears to increase the odds of boys later growing breasts, 25-fold, and then decreased testosterone later in life. Now, look, just because you have a smaller penis doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less masculine, as was widely reported.

But there was actually a study published last year showing that the phthalates found in chicken were significantly associated with less masculine behavior in boys, such as playing less with trucks, and more with dolls, for example. The chicken phthalates have also been associated with increased odds of Caesarean section, diminished child intelligence (particularly in boys), attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, later in life, abdominal obesity, altered thyroid function, damaged sperm, and, as we learned this summer, a lower sperm count.

Why is chicken so contaminated? Maybe it’s just leaching into the meat from the plastic wrap packaging? Probably not. The finding that egg consumption is significantly associated with levels of the penis-shrinking MEHP suggests that chickens themselves may be contaminated, and that food is not being contaminated just through packaging and processing.

Maybe it’s in the feed? Phthalates have been intentionally fed to chickens in hopes of decreasing the cholesterol levels in their muscles and eggs, but it didn’t work.

Regardless, if there is one thing pregnant women may want to avoid during pregnancy to protect their sons’ 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

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.

27 responses to “Chicken Consumption & the Feminization of Male Genitalia

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  1. Very interesting research. In light of some other (conflicting) studies that show phytoestrogens also impact genital development — in your view, what protein choices are best for expectant moms?

    Also, do we have any data from the Food Science world measuring the levels of phthalates in organic vs. conventionally produced meat/animal-based foods?




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    1. Hello klickityklack! I believe I can assist you with your question!

      Regarding the comment on phytoestrogens, phytoestrogens actually do not affect male estrogen levels. Dairy actually increased levels significantly. Check out Dr. G’s video on that here: http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/dairy-sexual-precocity/

      Regarding the protein question, it is of no concern to focus on eating protein if you eat a whole foods plant based diet. All plants are complete proteins. The American Dietetic Association acknowledges this fact and states that “Plant protein can meet protein requirements when a variety of plant foods is consumed and energy needs are met. Research indicates that an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids and ensure adequate nitrogen retention and use in healthy adults; thus, complementary proteins do not need to be consumed at the same meal” http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf Basically, if you eat when your hungry and till your full then your getting enough protein for you and your baby since your body will be hungry when you need more energy. You also don’t need to compliment different foods since each plant source is a complete protein in itself. The world Health Organization also claims that we do not need too much protein. About 0.45 grams of protein per kilo of body weight. This is a moderate level and doesnt come out too much. Dr. McDougall also states that protein is also used in small quantities every day so we really do not need to focus on getting it specifically. http://www.nealhendrickson.com/mcdougall/031200puprotein.htm As stated before, eat a balanced whole foods plant based diet, eat till your full and when your hungry and you will be well off. Spinach is 51% protein whereas beef is 37% protein!

      Regarding the difference between conventional and organic products, As Dr. T. Colin Campbell puts it, the differences between organic and conventional meat in compositional makeup is insignificant. It is still the same lack of phytochemicals and antioxidants and the same type of nutrients and protein. Organic is more of just a label on meat on a health standpoint.

      Hope this helped!




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  2. What I’m wondering is how these companies get away with this. Arsenic is a POISON, they finish off the chickens with ARSENIC. They should be prosecuted for attempted murder. That would set a strong message. WHY ARE WE TOLERATING THIS!?




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  3. Dr Greger – I would love to hear your opinion on the latest craze in the fitness industry namely ‘Intermittent Fasting’. Proponents claim that it not only sheds excess fat from the body in a short amount of time, but also has many other benefits including better glycaemic control, reduced levels of IGF-I and reduced oxidative stress. I thought these were all benefits of a plant-based diet! Are there any benefits to IF that extend beyond a vegan diet? Are there any potential harmful effects? Many thanks, Dr Westwood, UK.




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  4. Dear Dr. Greger,

    My 24 year old son was diagnosed with testicular cancer this year. I follow you and your studies closely and am wondering if you ran across any correlations or observations in reference to this rare cancer. I would appreciate any input including any dietary suggestions. We follow a high vegetable/fruit diet and he eats meat, eggs occasionally. He is allergic to dairy.
    Truly appreciate your time and website! Tatiana




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    1. I have seen no studies relating to any of the types of testicular cancer. In general whole food plant based diets are associated with less cancer for a variety of reasons. I would tend to avoid meat, dairy, eggs and fish. You might benefit from resources on the PCRM.org website from The Cancer project see http://pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/. You may be able to find a Food for Life instructor in your area who is giving a series of cooking classes. The other advantage to eating whole food plant based diet is avoiding other chronic diseases. Good luck.




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  5. People have been eating chickens for many years and there has not been a problem so I would think it must be something in the new food, drugs, etc.




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  6. HI this is shazad i want to ask a tips about penius enlargment my penius is so small upto 3.5 inch and my age is 23 year and i m very worry about it.I cannot afford any expensive supplements so plz suggest me sir what should i do now.how i should gain my proper size.
    plz send your answer at my email:shazadulhaq2@gmail.com




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  7. Very interesting thanks. Would you think is safe to eat organic eggs and organic chicken/turkey during pregnancy and breast feeding?

    Many thanks




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    1. I would avoid both eggs and chicken and turkey not only during pregnancy but also before and after pregnancy. My daughter went through both her pregnancies following a whole food plant based diet and was easily able to meet her protein and nutritional needs. Of course you need to work with your physicians. A good resource for information so you can work effectively with your physicians is… Reed Mangels, The Everything Vegan Pregnancy which also covers infants (note PCRM also has free booklet Nutrition for Kids available for free download). She also has free resources online at http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/preginfchil or http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php. Another resource is http://www.vegfamily.com/babies-and-toddlers/index.htm. Good luck and keep tuned to NutritionFacts.org as the science keeps coming.




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    1. Hi Nick,

      Good question and I’m not sure I have the exact answer, but here is a review article discussing phthalates and diet (http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/507/art%253A10.1186%252F1476-069X-13-43.pdf?originUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fehjournal.biomedcentral.com%2Farticle%2F10.1186%2F1476-069X-13-43&token2=exp=1459975723~acl=%2Fstatic%2Fpdf%2F507%2Fart%25253A10.1186%25252F1476-069X-13-43.pdf*~hmac=9132c3fe13664147dfafdde5d0d65063ee797be2119ed57a60e3ee87bb89f9a0). It does highlight two studies that looked at individuals consuming a largely organic diet versus those not and concluded they had lower phthalate intake for some but not all phthalate, but they did not specifically look at organic chicken and really focusing on packaging. They also highlighted a study or two that looked at cooking methods and found that cooking whole foods does reduce the phthalate concentration slightly. I know this is not a complete answer to your question, but if I come across something that specifically addresses organic chicken I’ll be sure to post again.




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  8. Sadly, I can vouch for all the research done here… I feel like as if I’m described in your video! But nevertheless, I gained a lot of stuff from my parents other than ‘manly virtues’. All of my insecurities are nothing when compared with the experience I gained growing up with them, so I’ll just hate the chickens instead haha. I’m gonna fasten into my vegan-diet transition after watching this.




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  9. Holle Doc I hope you are doing well . I Q . let us say that a person had that problem that has peins is samll becuase of chicken can he fix the propblem by changing has diet .




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