What Diet Best Lowers Phthalate Exposure?

What Diet Best Lowers Phthalate Exposure?
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The highest levels of phthalates, hormone-disrupting plastics chemical pollutants, are found in meats, fats, and dairy.

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Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals linked to a number of adverse health effects, such as disturbing infant and child development, and, in adults, may affect reproductive health in men, endometriosis in women, and is associated with increased abdominal fat in both. Given the increasing evidence base linking phthalate exposure with harmful outcomes, it’s important to understand major sources of exposure.

The most major of which is diet, for if you take people and have them stop eating for a few days, you get a significant drop in the amount of phthalates spilling out into their urine. One can only fast for so long, though. Thankfully, we can see similar drops just eating a plant-based diet for a few days—which gives us a clue as to where most phthalates are found.

The highest levels are found in meats, fats, and dairy. Poultry consistently comes out as being most contaminated across the board, with some of the highest levels ever reported, though there are geographic exceptions. In the U.K., fish came out worse. And in Belgium, nothing appears to beat out reindeer meat.

In the U.S., though, it’s poultry. The finding that egg consumption is also significantly associated with phthalate levels suggests that chickens themselves may be contaminated, and it’s not just like the plastic they’re wrapped with at the store. The same might not be true with dairy, though.

Realizing that these chemicals may be harmful, researchers in Seattle took ten families and randomized them into five days of complete dietary replacement with fresh organic foods: no packaging. Nothing touched plastic. Organic milk delivered in glass; even the crates to carry the food were wood, instead of plastic. This was like the fasting study, to see what role eliminating processed foods would have on lowering phthalate levels—because not everyone wants to switch to a plant-based diet, or stop eating completely.

Here’s where the families started at baseline before changing their diet, and here’s where they ended up a week after the experiment, when they were back on their baseline diet. The question is, what happened in the middle? Eating fresh and organic, their phthalate levels went up—a dramatic and unexpected increase in one of the most toxic phthalates, and not just a little, like 2,000% increase. So, they tested all the foods, and one of the spices was off the chart. And so was the dairy, because most of the phthalates apparently don’t come from the cow; they come from the tubing.

If you milk cows by hand, which even the Amish don’t do anymore, the levels of phthalates in the milk are low. But if you milk the same cows by machine, the milk picks up phthalates from the tubing. And so, the final levels may depend more on the tubing than on what the cows are fed.

Whereas, we’re not sure where the chickens are getting it. This study was done on adults; more recently, we learned where our kids may be getting it from. They found pretty much the same thing: mostly meat, poultry, and fish. And again, poultry appeared to be the worst, while soy consumption was associated with significantly lower levels. But what kind of exposure are we talking about?

They calculated what may be typical exposures for infants, teens, and women. How does this compare with current guidelines? Well, the EPA’s reference dose, which is like the maximum acceptable threshold, is 20 [micrograms per kilograms per day], based on liver risk. Europe places their maximum daily intake for testicular toxicity at 50 [micrograms per kilograms per day]. So, a typical infant diet exceeds the EPA’s safety level, while a diet high in meat and dairy was approximately four times this threshold. For adolescents, a diet high in meat and dairy also exceeded the EPA’s reference dose.

Diets high in meat and dairy consumption resulted in a two-fold increase in exposure. And all diets from all groups exceeded the allowable daily intakes derived by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for problems with sperm production, while diets high in meat and dairy consumption may exceed the allowable intake for risk of reproductive birth defects as well.

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 Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Serdar Basak via 123rf.

Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals linked to a number of adverse health effects, such as disturbing infant and child development, and, in adults, may affect reproductive health in men, endometriosis in women, and is associated with increased abdominal fat in both. Given the increasing evidence base linking phthalate exposure with harmful outcomes, it’s important to understand major sources of exposure.

The most major of which is diet, for if you take people and have them stop eating for a few days, you get a significant drop in the amount of phthalates spilling out into their urine. One can only fast for so long, though. Thankfully, we can see similar drops just eating a plant-based diet for a few days—which gives us a clue as to where most phthalates are found.

The highest levels are found in meats, fats, and dairy. Poultry consistently comes out as being most contaminated across the board, with some of the highest levels ever reported, though there are geographic exceptions. In the U.K., fish came out worse. And in Belgium, nothing appears to beat out reindeer meat.

In the U.S., though, it’s poultry. The finding that egg consumption is also significantly associated with phthalate levels suggests that chickens themselves may be contaminated, and it’s not just like the plastic they’re wrapped with at the store. The same might not be true with dairy, though.

Realizing that these chemicals may be harmful, researchers in Seattle took ten families and randomized them into five days of complete dietary replacement with fresh organic foods: no packaging. Nothing touched plastic. Organic milk delivered in glass; even the crates to carry the food were wood, instead of plastic. This was like the fasting study, to see what role eliminating processed foods would have on lowering phthalate levels—because not everyone wants to switch to a plant-based diet, or stop eating completely.

Here’s where the families started at baseline before changing their diet, and here’s where they ended up a week after the experiment, when they were back on their baseline diet. The question is, what happened in the middle? Eating fresh and organic, their phthalate levels went up—a dramatic and unexpected increase in one of the most toxic phthalates, and not just a little, like 2,000% increase. So, they tested all the foods, and one of the spices was off the chart. And so was the dairy, because most of the phthalates apparently don’t come from the cow; they come from the tubing.

If you milk cows by hand, which even the Amish don’t do anymore, the levels of phthalates in the milk are low. But if you milk the same cows by machine, the milk picks up phthalates from the tubing. And so, the final levels may depend more on the tubing than on what the cows are fed.

Whereas, we’re not sure where the chickens are getting it. This study was done on adults; more recently, we learned where our kids may be getting it from. They found pretty much the same thing: mostly meat, poultry, and fish. And again, poultry appeared to be the worst, while soy consumption was associated with significantly lower levels. But what kind of exposure are we talking about?

They calculated what may be typical exposures for infants, teens, and women. How does this compare with current guidelines? Well, the EPA’s reference dose, which is like the maximum acceptable threshold, is 20 [micrograms per kilograms per day], based on liver risk. Europe places their maximum daily intake for testicular toxicity at 50 [micrograms per kilograms per day]. So, a typical infant diet exceeds the EPA’s safety level, while a diet high in meat and dairy was approximately four times this threshold. For adolescents, a diet high in meat and dairy also exceeded the EPA’s reference dose.

Diets high in meat and dairy consumption resulted in a two-fold increase in exposure. And all diets from all groups exceeded the allowable daily intakes derived by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for problems with sperm production, while diets high in meat and dairy consumption may exceed the allowable intake for risk of reproductive birth defects as well.

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 Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Serdar Basak via 123rf.

Doctor's Note

Other videos on dietary sources of phthalates include Chicken Consumption and the Feminization of Male Genitalia and Lowering Dietary Antibiotic Intake. Diet isn’t the only way one can be exposed internally, though. See my video Avoiding Adult Exposure to Phthalates for the risk in children’s and adult toys.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

124 responses to “What Diet Best Lowers Phthalate Exposure?

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  1. We live in a large petri dish where novel molecules are being continuously and indiscriminately released without understanding the ramification how these agents effect the lifecycles of the organisms in residence.

      1. I like this comment from a blog: (we have to put things in perspective)

        http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/008949.html

        David Friedman said at March 2, 2013 11:00 PM:
        It’s worth noting that spices are consumed in much smaller quantities than butter, cream, milk and cheese, so those numbers actually imply that cinnamon and cayenne are much safer than dairy products.

        What about coriander? A tbsp of coriander, which is a lot, weights about 5g. So a tbsp of coriander has about as much phthalate as 250 g of butter, cream, milk or cheese–say about a cup. I conclude that most people will get considerably less exposure to phthalate from coriander than from diary products.

        1. Is there any study on phtalate levels in home grown coriander? Are some plastic pots safe to use when planting for consumption? May there be phtalates in the soil? Or from a garden hose used to water the plants?

    1. Contamination is everywhere and milk and spices seem to have the most. And I don’t know why coriander, cinnamon and cayenne pepper seem to have the highest.

      http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/03/study-eating-fresh-local-and-organic-wont-protect-you-nasty-chemicals

      http://thesoftlanding.com/study-finds-shockingly-high-phthalate-levels-in-food-seasonings-and-dairy-products/

      My philosophy is to eat organic as much as I can, and since the benefits outweigh the risks, eat a lot of variety of plant foods that have phytonutrients, antioxidants and anti cancer property, especially herbs and hopefully all the good foods will zap out any cancer tumor that may form.

      Remember that everyone has cancer cells in their body but we call it cancer only when it mestasizes and gets out of control.

      1. perhaps it is the containers they are stored in such as plastic bags (bulk), plastic jars, bins and other plastic containers. I get mine fresh ground from wholespice in CA. But I do not know what they are stored in. The nylon bags from my seal a meal may even have pthalates.

        1. Other spices and just about everything are stored in plastic containers but why coriander, cayenne pepper and cinnamon? Seems like some foods absorb the toxin from plastic more than others.

          Unless you buy the fresh herb leaves, ground herbs or dried leaves are mostly stored in plastic containers.

          I go with the mantra that the benefits outweigh the risks and we should worry less when we eat good foods :)

          1. actually I buy mine from the store they sell them in glass bottles. I get them from safeway not for example a specialty store. Maybe it depends on where you live ?

            1. Yep I see spices sold in both plastic and glass bottles. I am not concerned either way because I don’t believe that storing spices or any food in a plastic container unheated can cause contamination from plastic. It’s should be negligible.

    2. Note that coriander essential oil includes substantial naturally occurring phthalic acid, 0.65% in this study. My chemistry is rusty, but IIRC this could react with ethanol and hexanol to form the observed DEHP metabolites from the study that found the abberrantly high levels. Any analytical or organic chemists present?

        1. No.

          I had found two other studies from India which found 0.64% phthalic acid in coriander seed extract and in 0.17% diisooctyl phthalate cilantro leaf extract (1, 2) in cilantro leaf extract, and asked any analytical chemists who might visit the board if the “natural” phthalate ester might be confused with the similar synthetic and account for the high values. It turns out that analytical contamination and even attribution of bioactive properties are not uncommon in the plant chemistry research, and I believe this accounts for those Indian results.

          The study which assayed phthalate ester metabolite levels in this video would be looking for those specific compounds, and hence have much better controls than the two “fishing expeditions” from India.

          1. Maybe this is a clue to the smoking gun–Cilantro is apparently extremely good at taking up metals from the soil. I guess whether that’s good or bad depends of if you’re the farmer with contaminated soil or the poor soul who’s eating that farmer’s cilantro.

            1. Cilantro is very good at binding with heavy metals, for a short time at least. This is why so many people think it “chelates” mercury out of the body. It does not, but only holds on to it long enough to stir it up, then lets go and it redeposits into kidneys and other organs. Please do not use cilantro for “chelation” of mercury. This is the biggest single item of misinformation I encounter on this topic.

              1. So do you think cilantro, like winterbor kale, would be a good sacrifical lamb for plant growers? Winterbor hyperaccumulates thallium; cilantro binds heavy metals. Maybe that makes them good for cleaning up our soils. Your thoughts?

                1. Interesting idea. But if it does work, you would need a way to dispose of the contaminated cilantro, since the heavy metals don’t break down or transform into anything less toxic as far as I know.

    1. There may be an issue but remember plants don’t consume other plants so there wouldn’t be a concentration of chemicals as there is in the consumption animal products.

      1. No, but let’s not forget Fukushima polluting our oceans. Radiation…plastic…it’s all contributing to the unhealthy milieu we live in.

      2. no, but plants absorb toxins, and toxins in ocean can be in forms of toxic algae, viruses, who knows what else, and who knows how the toxins in oceans are contributing to the healthiness of seaweed.

  2. How are the spices being contaminated? Dr. Greger has spoken many times of the healthy effects of many spices. How do we include them in our diet without consuming phthalates? Please cover this in a future video.

      1. Do we know if the spices are really organic? Do we know what type of shipping they were contained in? What’s the net benefit of high levels of spice consumption.

        1. According to the MJ article, most if not all spices are imported, certified organic or not. And the researcher in the MJ article did say that the study was done on a small sample of spices and dairy product. So now I wonder if the contamination comes from a specific supplier or not and that’s why only coriander, cayenne pepper and cinnamon are singled out with the highest contamination of phthalates? And not trying to defend consumption of dairy product, I have some doubt that so much contamination can happen during the short time that the cow milk goes through the plastic tubing. I don’t know.

          In term of using spice and herb, they are different. Spice is dried herb and grinded into powder, while herb is fresh plant. We only consume a small amount of spice for our cooking. But we can eat more fresh herbs that are grown in the U.S. or South America and I think they are less contaminated. Myself, I grow herbs in my backyard.

          Turmeric comes mostly in powder form and are mostly imported, I think. Sometimes you can buy turmeric root and I think they are grown in South America but in powder form, it is considered a spice. Turmeric is known to prevent and cure inflammation, arthritis and even cancer. Personally, I use curcumin pill (derived from turmeric) with success for my arthritis.

          1. Jimmy: Your understanding of a spice vs herb is not the same one I am familiar with. Here’s a quote from a random website that more closely matches my understanding:

            “Herbs are usually the leafy parts for plants and can be sweet or savoury in flavour. … Spices are seasonings obtained from bark, root, buds, fruits, flower parts or seeds of plants, ….” http://www.diffen.com/difference/Herbs_vs_Spices

            You wrote: “Spice is dried herb and grinded into powder, while herb is fresh plant.” As defined above, an herb, the leafy part of a plant, can be dried and ground into a powder, but it is still considered an herb. That type of processing does not turn an herb into a spice. Typically, the difference between an herb and a spice is the part of the plant that it comes from. At least, that’s my understanding.

            1. OK Thea, I stand corrected. What I am trying to differentiate is the fresh herb plants which I can pick and choose their origins to buy, versus the spices (or herbs however you want to call it) in dried powder form for which I don’t know their origins even when it’s say organic and it is from a known store such as Costco or TJ or WF. So even when I buy an organic Kirkland brand or Trader Joe brand, I don’t know where it came from and whether or not it was stored in plastic container.

            2. Thea, I am not trying to argue about semantics because it is not important for the subject of this video and I think you are generally correct about the definition of spice vs. herb. But I am looking at the Kirkland (Costco) Organic No-Salt Seasoning which I use a lot for my seasoning. So this is considered a blend of 21 spices but I look at the list of ingredients and it contains a mixture of leaves and seeds. So what is this called? :)

              http://www.fooducate.com/app#!page=product&id=699A42DE-9D8D-11E0-86F7-1231380C180E

              INGREDIENTS
              organic onion, organic garlic, organic carrot, organic black pepper, organic red bell pepper, organic tomato granules, organic orange peel, organic parsley, organic bay leaves, organic thyme, organic basil, organic celery, organic melon peel, organic oregano, organic savory, organic mustard seed, organic cumin, organic marjoram, organic coriander, organic cayenne pepper, citric acid and organic rosemary.

              1. Jimmy: I can understand wanting to air out a subject, even if off topic. So, here is my reply:

                When I click the link, the picture shows that the product is labeled as a “Seasoning”. I did not see the term ‘spice’ used anywhere. Even if the title of the product were labeled as “21 Spices”, that would just be lazy commercial labeling, not an indication that people typically use the term ‘spice’ to be defined as “a dried herb and grinded into powder”.

                I do think that lots of people use the terms ‘spice’ and ‘herb’ interchangeably. Most people probably don’t know what the difference is. I’m *sure* I’m guilty of having used lazy language myself plenty of times. And really, I don’t have a problem with that. However, your post was making a point of re-defining the terms in a way that could just lead to a lot of confusion for people in the future. In a situation like that, I think the issue is worth pointing out. Also, I thought you might appreciate knowing the correct definitions. Those are the reasons I said something.

                Note: a “seasoning” is just something that flavors food and can be a spice, herb or mineral: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasoning

                1. Thea, the words “blend of 21 organic spices” is on the (plastic) container.

                  And here is the TJ 21 Seasoning Salute and the word spice is all over its description.

                  https://www.amazon.com/Trader-Joes-Seasoning-Salute-Pack/dp/B00809A9P4

                  “Product Description
                  Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute is a smooth blend of onion, black pepper, celery seed, cayenne pepper, parsley, basil, marjoram, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, savory, rosemary, cumin, mustard, coriander, garlic, carrot, orange peel, tomato, lemon juice and lemon oil. The various seasonings are blended in such a way that each flavor complements the others, as well as the dishes to which you add them. Leave the other spices out and add 21 Seasoning Salute to a vinaigrette, sprinkle some on burgers before you cook them, or add a dash (or several) to soups, sauces and dips. You can amp up the flavor even more if you sprinkle the blend into your palm first, and then break up the spices with your fingertips to release their essential oils. However you decide to use it, 21 Seasoning Salute is a quick, simple way to add an excellent balance of flavors, without spending a fortune stocking your spice shelves.”

                  I 100% agree with your correction because it is more precise but I am just trying to explain where the confusion comes from a layman (woman) point of view :)

          2. I think you make a good point; but I studied this some time ago, and my recollecition was that all the spices were organic, though I might be wrong; my understanding was also that they tested all the spices. The key point is that many of us, based upon Dr. Greger’s videos and other sources, regard spices as medicinal and take them in serious amounts, not just as something to adjust the taste of our foods. Hence, it’s a very serious issue, to those of us who use spices medicinally to increase anti-oxidants, or to reduce inflammation markers or cancerous markers.

            1. Richard, I use spice as seasoning as well as eating certain spice in semi large quantity for medicinal purpose, such as a tablespoon of turmeric powder per day. So now if my TJ turmeric is contaminated then it will affect my health but I will continue to use the turmeric spice (I also take the curcumin supplement). I eat a lot of black pepper and cayenne pepper because I like it. All these articles talking about contamination of spices give me concern but I don’t stop using it until it’s proven that the benefits don’t outweigh the risks.

              1. I think it’s wise to be cautious; but caution will err on the side of attending to toxicities rather than benefits when it comes to food, I tend to think. But to each his own.

    1. Good question, Anne. Is it the plastic packaging? The PVC pipe used for irrigation? Or ubiquitous background contamination?

    2. Spices are routinely fumigated and often ground/processed before packaging. Of course, the original product could iitself have been grown using chemicals in the form of fertilisers and pesticides. I imagine that any or all of the processes could contribute to contamination.

  3. Dear Doc G. although phthalates are an interesting subject, I would also like you and your team to investigate the Endocrine activity plastics/additives threat. For instance all our focus was on BPA free plastics but it seems that the replacement plastics with BPA free logos can actually be more endocrine disrupting than the BPA which we now successfully removed. Mother Jones had a quiet interesting and comprehensive article about it lately. Hope you do something with this too so our community can start changing their plastic habits and use their voices to get safer products. Thanks Mark

  4. Very interesting, as we learn more we learn more about how we harm ourselves. More evidence to substantiate the good health and longevity of the various long lived vegan and vegetarian societies.

    1. I don’t doubt that vegan has longer life because they consume more plant foods which have more phytonutrients and anti disease properties. But I doubt that eating plant foods will guarantee you necessarily of less contamination of phthalates which is the subject of this video.

  5. Well everything now is in plastic. Even the canned beans, which Doctor recommends, are in tin or plastic/foil packaging that will pickup contaminants, like aluminum or BPA, or other pesticides. Walnuts or almonds are sold in plastic. Even the fertilizer that is used for produce has contaminants. Oh, what about the bottled water? and on and on and on…

    So, the conclusion is to grow your own. and well your water.

    I do appreciate Doctor’s posts, but it would be “kosher” or fair to look at the nutrition perspective fairly and not biased against animal sources of nutrients.

    Also, is it true that the blood used in hospitals for transfusions is in a plastic packaging?

    1. Hi Sam,
      The question of blood storage containers and blood delivery tubing being plastic is an interesting one I never even thought of. I’ve been a healthcare provider for almost 30 years and blood has always been collected, stored and delivered via plastic vessels. In my entire career I don’t ever recall seeing it stored or collected in glass. I wonder if the plastic is BPA free? I would venture to guess it’s not. This has made me want to investigate this further.

      1. Phalates are also used in infusion set tubing for insulin pumps. I imagine that diabetics who are infused with insulin via plastic tubing 24/7 have high levels of phalates. I’m sure the insulin pump companies don’t want this research done.

    2. By saying that Dr G is “biased against animal sources of nutrients”, you are implying that he ignores inconvenient research studies or simply misrepresents what is known. Do you have any evidence for this?

      1. hi Tom
        All published research is how any animal sources of food are bad. Plus he works for the Humane Society.

        This best describes what I meant”
        http://www.humanewatch.org/hsus_doc_exposed_as_schlock/

        “Blubber is a staple of the Inuit diet, and it contains large amounts of antioxidants. Atherosclerosis is practically unknown in Greenland. In Uummannaq, Greenland, a population of 3000 residents had no
        deaths due to CVD in the 1970s. And the average 70 year old Inuit with a
        traditional diet of whale and seal has arteries as elastic as that of a
        20-year old Danish resident. Why didn’t Dr. Greger mention that
        research? I think I can guess why.”
        https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/death-as-a-foodborne-illness-curable-by-veganism/

        “I think his videos are worth watching, but keep in mind that there is
        some cherry picking of data. Of course that doesn’t mean the cherries he
        picks are rotten; they’re fine.”
        http://blogs.mcgill.ca/oss/2013/10/15/dr-michael-greger-what-do-we-make-of-him/
        Office for Science & Society
        McGill University
        801 Sherbrooke Street West, Rm. 110
        Montreal, Quebec H3A 0B8

        1. Thanks Sam. I believe scepticism is healthy and that you should continue to raise doubts if you think that these are merited.

          However, I think that it is some of your sources that can more accurately be described as biased. The Humanewatch site certainly indulges in a bit of personal denigration and does not appear to offer a dispassionate analysis. Similarly with Harriet Hall and her website (sciencebasedmedicine), who has very decided opinions on a number of matters including vegetarianism which she justifies by some peculiarly simplistic and weak criticisms of strawman arguments. I do not think that anyone, for example, has claimed that a plant based diet can completely prevent heart attacks. There are genetic factors, viral illnesses and even shocks which can induce heart attacks. The real argument is that a plant based diet will reduce risk on a population basis to a negligible basis. A state of affairs which in actuality has been observed in populations eating traditional plant based diets
          http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/11/11/we-can-end-the-heart-disease-epidemic/

          I thought that the comments of Mac Smiley and some others on the Humanewatch webpage you linked to were telling.

          The fact that Harriet Hall uncritically refers to the claims about (Greenland) Inuit also telling. The old claims about Greenland Inuit having remarkably low levels of heart disease have been disproved eg
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12535749
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20548980
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26239003

          I would urge you to look at all the research on Greenland Inuit health and not just some old articles which happen to suit Harriet Hall’s and Humanewatch’s personal agenda/biases. And in fact, Dr Greger has discussed studies reporting eskimos having little or no heart disease
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/omega-3s-and-the-eskimo-fish-tale/

          However, I thought that the McGill blogger was very reasonable. He does however say that we will never see Dr G refer to any study that shows something positive about meat. Well,yes and no, Dr G does actually refer to some of these studies and even links to them eg
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/switching-from-beef-to-chicken-fish-may-not-lower-cholesterol/

          But, really, are there studies showing positive long term benefits from meat? Or at least ones that don’t just compare meat to something even worse like trans fats or junk carbs? I would certainly be interested in seeing them.

          1. One idea often mentioned by meat eating advocates is that the Lakota Sioux were among the longest lived and healthiest of all people in N. America based on their traditional bison eating diet. Also one of the tribes in Africa, the Maasai, I think. Weston Price found them to be among the healthiest in the world. Fierce hunters, kind of the Aztecs of their area, they ate mostly meat and dairy.

            1. John: Those ideas are myths. Take the Masai for example. Here is the first video in a series that dispells some of the myths about Masai: http://plantpositive.squarespace.com/blog/2012/3/25/tpns-29-30-the-masai-model.html

              If this type of information interests you, the same site covers other populations, such as the Inuit, too.

              Tom will likely have a better answer than this. I just thought I would squeeze this info in here since the Plant Positive site is so awesome and helpful for these types of questions.

              1. Those were good videos. Thanks Thea. He did mention the health benefits of fermented milk, which Dr. Greger mentioned in his book, but not in his videos.

            2. Thanks John. Unfortunately travellers’ tales are notoriously unreliable since there is a tendency to romanticise the exotic and they are usually lacking in both hard data and convincing methodologies. I do not think we have any good information on the Lakota Sioux for example and simply accepting such reports at face value would be naive..

              Supporters of eg saturated fat and grass fed beef tend to seize upon some old stories and old studies that support their beliefs and tend to ignore contrary contemporary reports as well as later, better designed studies which do not support their beliefs. Groups that have been identified as demonstrating that high fat and/or high meat diets are healthful include the Eskimos, the Maasai, South American gauchos and Mongols (and other central Asian nomadic herding peoples). We have already discussed the Eskimo, so what about the Maasai? I think reports are conflicting here.

              PlantPositive has some videos on the Maasai which illustrate this (his references are very informative if you wish to follow up this subject).
              http://plantpositive.com/display/Search?moduleId=19496100&searchQuery=masai

              As for the stories about the Lakota Sioux, gauchos, Mongols etc, these are all used as arguments for the healthfulness of all-meat or high meat diets … and particularly grass-fed meat diets. They seem to be largely based on old travellers’ tales rather than methodologically rigorous studies and hard data. They are discussed here:
              http://healthylongevity.blogspot.com/2013/10/Cardiovascular-Disease-in-Ancient-Civilizations.html
              http://healthylongevity.blogspot.com/2012/11/traditional-diets-in-asia-pacific-and.html
              http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2012/09/grass-fed-animal-products-prevent.html

              Having noted all this, I would not necessarily totally discount all the claims about Eskimos and Maasai being relatively healthy despite their diets (although neither group is famed for being long-lived). However, I would argue that if these groups can do reasonably well on high fat or high meat diets, it does not mean that everyone can. Both groups have genetic adaptions to their diet and lifestyle, not shared by most of the rest of us:
              http://science.sciencemag.org/content/349/6254/1343
              http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0044751

              1. Good information, Tom.

                The ancestral genetics angle is interesting.

                I find the more thoughtful Paleo-ish doctors advocating olives, nuts, berries, leafy vegies, avocados, fermented dairy, and SMALL amounts of grass-fed meat. Of course, then you see their “adherents” eating giant piles of feed lot meat.

                In Weston Price’s actual book, he mostly talked about people eating small quantities of very selected meats, as we would use vitamins or supplements today. Of course they had neither vitamins nor supplements in stores back then.

                It is interesting to see how other effects contribute, for example the small quantity of food of the Maasai, the close community of almost all, more exercise, community purpose, everyone eating wild and organic everything back in the day.]

                Thanks for putting some perspective on frequently cited comments.
                John

          2. “I do not think that anyone, for example, has claimed that a plant based diet can completely prevent heart attacks.”

            I think that some have claimed that a diet that gets cholesterol down to where primitive plant-based cultures have it can completely prevent heart attacks. No-one is claiming that a western plant-based diet is guaranteed to get cholesterol down that low.

        2. Thanks to better health care systems, we know a great deal more about the Inuit risk of heart disease than prior generations.

          Fodor et al, 2014. “Fishing” for the origins of the “Eskimos and heart disease” story: facts or wishful thinking?. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 30(8), pp.864-868.

          The comparable levels of heart disease among the Inuit doesn’t appear wholly due to modern diets, as atherosclerotic lesions have been found in a 53 year old woman frozen in 400 AD and a 45 year old woman whose home was crushed around 1520 AD.

          Zimmerman, 1993. The paleopathology of the cardiovascular system. Texas Heart Institute Journal, 20(4), p.252.

  6. So one question that was not answered is on the comparison with plant based (organic) that included dairy, what is the level of exposure when the plant based diet excluded dairy? Surprised this one was left hanging.

    1. Hi Perezcavich,
      I believe the point Dr. Greger is trying to make is that animal foods (specifically meats, poultry, eggs, dairy) are the most prominent sources of phthalates. Even switching to organic animal foods will not decrease the phthalate levels. I hope that answers your question.

    2. There was a comparable study from Korea, where Buddhist temple cuisine tends to be dairy free.

      Ji et al 2010. Influence of a five-day vegetarian diet on urinary levels of antibiotics and phthalate metabolites: a pilot study with “Temple Stay” participants. Environmental research, 110(4), pp.375-382.

      The before diets were omnivorous. Urinary levels of all pthalate ester metabolites fell markedly, most statistically significatly (denoted by * below):
      metabolite sampling median ng/mg creatine
      MEP M before 44.8
      M after 17.3*
      F before 30.8
      F after 3.2*
      MnBP M before 74.8
      M after 28.7*
      F before 136.7
      F after 36.6*
      MiBP M before 18.6
      M after 7.5*
      F before 31.4
      F after 9.2*
      MEHP M before 10.6
      M after 9.2
      F before 13.9
      F after 10.6
      4-oxo-MEHP M before 21.9
      M after 15.6
      F before 35.3
      F after 18.4*
      5-OH-MEHP M before 42.4
      M after 18.7*
      F before 43.1
      F after 23.0*

  7. This is a great video, but I am afraid we’re not being scientific in our approach. Why are we assuming that plants are better off? Just because chicken and dairy have more phthalates does not mean that plants necessarily have less. It’s analogous to lead in chicken broth; many people just assumed that vegetable-based broth was better, which we do not know to be the case given a number of conflicting analyses conducted on the issue. I’m afraid that the omnipresence of toxins in our environment does not discriminate based on our dietary preferences. As vegan/vegetarians, I think we have more solid philosophical – instead of scientific – ground to stand when promoting a plant-based diet, i.e., Peter’s Singer’s wonderful work on the ethics of animal consumption, etc. So, Doc G, how about some videos that explore the ethical dimensions of animal consumption? This would take this site to a different level–in my opinion, of course :)

    1. I think meat consumption is a different issue from the contamination issue for just about everything, including plant foods.

      Yeah I like to see a study of people who eat a lot of spices and herbs contaminated with phthalates. Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

    2. >So, Doc G, how about some videos that explore the ethical dimensions of animal consumption?<

      Probably a fair topic for discussion in the comments sections, but a recipe for losing many current viewers and turning away many new viewers, IMO. More importantly to me, when I think Dr Greger is "promoting a plant-based diet" instead of presenting the best nutritional scientific evidence to date no matter what food is best, then I'm gone.

      1. Gatherer,

        Thanks for writing. I guess I come at this issue from a difference angle. I am trained in both science and philosophy, and truth be told, I am more of a philosopher–which I think makes me a better scientist. Your closing comment intrigues me because I think this site, at times, does more “promoting” than science, and I am 100% OK with that. But… If we look at human nutrition related studies objectively and across the board, I just don’t see any scientific evidence that is as strong or as compelling as the philosophical and ethical arguments for a plant-based diet. So, I guess I wish Doc G would more deliberately/explicitly explore his philosophical commitments (because obviously we all share them).

        One last thought… Though science and philosophy overlap, they are not the same. Unfortunately, however, many “scientists” don’t recognize this distinction and inadvertently push a philosophy instead of hard science. But, to me, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter – in the present case of a plant-based diet – because science cannot tell us how to act or what is the ethically correct thing to do, which is why even if tomorrow it were scientifically determined that eating animals on a regular basis were the healthiest choice to make, I still would not eat animals. So, I guess I wish my vegan/vegetarian peers could/would be more honest about the fact that our choice to not eat animals is more subjectively (value) determined than it is objectively (empirically) determined. Hypothetically, would you drop your diet if tomorrow it was determined that eating animals was not markedly worse for your health? Again, I wouldn’t.

        Thanks again for your comment. Best, Dr. D

        1. Hey Dr. D,

          Not to jump in this too late, but I felt the need to comment. For a note on perspective, I became a vegetarian 6 years ago for moral reasons and have shuffled towards WFPB slowly for a mix of nutritional and moral reasons. Like you, I am highly compelled by the moral argument, but I disagree that he should begin implementing it as a focus of his videos. The purpose of the site should remain true to its name – facts about nutrition. We, as observers, are capable of discussing the relevance of those facts in moral contexts, but to obscure the video with personal commentary decreases overall credibility and usefulness of the science.

          Wouldn’t you say it’s most important to deliver facts as they are, then discuss morality based on those facts? There are plenty of websites out there that take the moral stand, but few which discuss nutrition without making a presupposed judgment. It’s refreshing to have one, especially since I contest that we all do indeed share his philosophical commitments.

          Best,
          J

          1. Thanks for writing, Jordan. Sorry for the delay. Work has a way of getting in the way of my writing in comments sections on websites :)

            As David Hume addressed almost 300 years ago (and more recently Karl Popper), scientific inquiry is not about “facts.” Rather, scientific inquiry is about what Popper called “falsifiability”:

            “The concern with falsifiability gained attention by way of philosopher of science Karl Popper’s scientific epistemology “falsificationism”. Popper stresses the problem of demarcation—distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific—and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability)

            In lay terms, science can never pursue “truth” or “fact” directly; it can, however, determined what is false. This is why the media and general population bastardize so many studies. No study (or studies) uncover facts. All a study can do is, within its own purview, make observations about the phenomenon in question. A true scientist never says “this study shows….” and makes some blanket universal claim. That’s not how science works. If you hear a “scientist” talk like that, be very skeptical. The bedrock sciences know this, but the popular sciences (nutrition, exercise, psychology, etc.) consistently make this error. All a study can do is, in its own limited way (meaning within its own predetermined parameters), support or negate its hypothesis. Here’s the catch though… regardless of whether a study supports or negates its own hypothesis, the merit of the scientist lies in how meticulously he/she accounts for inconsistencies and confounding factors within the study and then dialogues with other scientists about how to move forward. There are NEVER definitive conclusions in science; there is, however, a gradual strengthening of hypotheses about how the world works, but this process fundamentally remains open and incomplete, which is why we talk about scientific “inquiry,” because inquiry has no end. So, I have to be honest, “nutrition facts” unsettles me because my experience as a scientist suggests that when folks make factual claims in science they are unintentionally covering over values. In other words, they don’t realize that they let values sneak into their science.

            So back to my original point, let’s just be honest about what we value and talk about it more explicitly. I’m ok with that, but let’s not muddle science with “facts” and such. I’m not being glib or hyperbolic here. Walk into any serious university and talk to biologists, chemists, physicists, etc. They 100% get it.

            Last, be careful about conflating facts and ethics. Facts hypothetically pertain to what ACTUALLY is the case. Ethics pertain to what SHOULD be the case (i.e., an ideal), which why, even though I am a scientist, my decisions, like eating plants instead of animals, are guided by an ethical imperative and not scientific research.

            Hope this clarifies my position, my friend. Thanks for engaging me in dialogue. Please keep it going if you have any questions or if you think I have erred in my assessment. I also want to say that I really do appreciate this site, despite my critical comments. I am a scientist, so my default setting is to be critical, but this criticality is driven by good intentions. I also truly appreciate the very intelligent group of people who dialogue in these comments sections. These comments are educative in themselves.

            Respectfully,
            Dr. D

        2. >Hypothetically, would you drop your [WFPB] diet if tomorrow it was determined
          that eating animals was not markedly worse for your health?<

          Yes, chances are I would, in part to conform to the norm. Even with animal food being markedly worse for health I haven't been able to convince a single person to join me in eating pure (or even 95%) vegetarian, not even my long term GF who badly needs to. Currently at many social functions I don't find much if anything to eat even when people are aware of my diet.

          As far as the argument against killing animals goes, I never took pleasure from that aspect of my biomedical research career, but I did "sacrifice" many rodents in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. I also ate meat until just a few years so, so it would be hypocritical of me to suddenly demand that others stop killing animals for food.

          A more compelling argument for me from philosophical vegans is the effect of raising livestock on the environment.

          To end on a lighter note, I found Okinawan purple yams at my local Asian grocery store yesterday, as well as golden kiwi.

        3. i am also a trained philosopher. I have survived on chocolate icecream, candy, jelly beans etc. for 70 years. I hate vegs and cannot swallow too much meat at all. survive on olive oil on bread and great cheese…….what happened to genetics??? rarely mentioned in all of this…..

          1. Plato,

            Surviving and thriving are not the same thing; quantity of life and quality of life are not the same thing. If someone eats a steady diet of cheese curds and Red Bull and lives to 80, he/she would be considered a statistical outlier. Furthermore, one has to wonder if he/she would have lived longer and healthier life with a more sensible diet. Maybe not… but such a case cannot be a lighthouse for the rest of us less genetically-gifted folks because it is not representative of general population trends. So, keep enjoying your ice cream and jelly beans while the rest of us eat like rabbits! :)

            And Plato, one last thing… didn’t Socrates (or should I really say Plato?) pretty clearly state to Glaucon in The Republic that eating animals was an obstacle to happiness? I think the old sage would say that caring for animals is also caring for the integrity of our own soul. Wouldn’t you agree?

            Best,
            Dr. D

    3. The question is which foods are more likely to be contaminated and to what level. Do you have any information that plant foods are likely to be contaminated as or more frequently than animal foods as a total class, and do plant foods that are contaminated deliver a higher total load to the individual than contaminated animal foods?

      But that is the diets and foods stuff as they are know. The second question then becomes how hard is it to change practices in different types of foods to eliminate current contamination. In the case of dairy I would think that it would be almost impossible to eliminate the use of plastic tubing in the milking machines. If the source of contamination is in the animal feed, then that would be more straightforward to remedy. The resistance in animal agriculture is likely to come from anything that might cause even the slightest cost increase, especially if that change isn’t forced on the entire industry uniformly.

      And I disagree strongly on your assertion that a plant-based diet doesn’t have a very robust scientific basis. Have you ever seen a study that showed that the participants health was improved when they replace whole plant foods with animal foods? It really is that simple. If animal foods were healthier than whole plant foods, you can rest assured that the animal food industry would be all over like well flies on the primary waste product of their animals. But they are simply not. Any study I have seen that supposedly showed any improvements in health by adding animal foods to the diet did so by removing something even more unhealthy. Thus the dairy industry can show that milk improves health but only if milk is replacing sugary soda, and even then not by a lot.

      And like you say there is the entire ethical arguments for continuing to eat a food for which you have no nutritional requirement simply because you derive pleasure from it. Deriving pleasure from the pain and suffering of others is the essence of sadism.

    4. Read primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall’s book “Seeds of Hope”. Physiologically people are designed to eat plants. We have general purpose teeth fine for fruits, soft leaves, shoots, seeds, nuts. Our stomach’s are mildly acidic and our digestive tract is very long, about four to five times our height where the plant food is fermented by our gut microbes. In contrast, carnivores have sharp teeth, highly acidic stomachs where most of the digestion takes place, and much shoter intestines about as long as the carnivore to get rid of the waste before it putrefies. In confirmation, regions where people eat mostly plants have better mortality, less cancer, much less Alzheimer’s and heart disease, etc. So we do plant foods in variety vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds which includes legumes and whole grains. Other people may choose differently regardless of health example smokers.

      Now the hooker is a lot of our plant foods come in plastic packages……..our spices are in glass bottles.

      1. I’ll add another perspective. Before the development of metal weapons, just a blink of the eye on an evolutionary scale, it would have been very difficult and very dangerous to kill animals on a regular basis. Even a small scratch could lead to a deadly infection. And no antibiotics to treat it.

      2. Interesting points, Jerry. Most certainly we are not carnivores, but you’re forgetting that we have eyes in front (and not on the sides) and that our front teeth are designed for tearing flesh. We are omnivores. As a scientist, I don’t disagree with the claim by meat-eating folks that human evolution was driven by eating meat. The best evidence most certainly suggests that it was driven (to some extent) by meat consumption, BUT… we now have the capacity for ethical consciousness and can think outside of and beyond our evolutionary past, which means that just because we evolved to eat meat – or because we ate meat -, we don’t have the ethical right to harm another being. This just may be the greatest and most intriguing paradox of our evolution.

    5. My understanding is that it is usually observed that contaminants and toxins are more concentrated in organisms higher in the food chain. There are various terms for this – bioaccumulation, biomagnification, bioamplification etc. This process is widely accepted in the scientific community and based on observation.

      Consequently, and ignoring the effects of packaging, it is reasonable to assume that plants have fewer phtathalate contaminants than animals. This can of course be altered by feeding practices (ie animal feedstuffs and plant fertilisers etc) and food processing but this does not affect the general principle.

      Why therefore do you state that this working assumption in the case of phthalates is “not being scientific in our approach”?

    6. Dr. D, thank you for your comment. Around 0:53 Dr. Greger states that when subjects switched to a plant based diet, their phthalate levels dropped. I believe that is a strong enough evidence to say that plants contain lower levels of phthalates. (In general – coriander and cayenne are some exceptions as discussed in comments above)

      Also, I agree with you that there are numerous ethical reasons to avoid animal products. There are also plenty of organizations which aim to educate others on these ethical reasons. However, I think I can safely speak on behalf of Dr. Greger that he has chosen this platform to educate the masses on the research of nutrition. (Hence the name nutritionfacts.) Using this website to discuss animal ethics would take away from the pure research he presents. I hope this answers your questions.

  8. I recall that phthalate derivatives are used as plasticizers, like in making bottles for water and many other clear plastics, also gels, etc. They leach out in ocean, etc., wherever the used containers are held and/or recycled, like pyrolysis unto liquid fuel (the gas is where phthalates escape). Man-made phthalate derivs. are free-radical generators and propagators in the biosphere. Bitter living through chemistry, I guess. After 60 years from the millions of annual pounds of DDT sprayed on food and laborers in the great valley I still have the toxic DDT breakdown metabolites stored in my lipids. I believe fish oil helps somehow… BTW, I have been avoiding BPA for a decade and phthalates for 4-5 decades from having formulated pesticide products.

  9. I’m a bit confused. Presumably the non-organic cows were milked using the same type of hoses on the auto-milkers. So why the increase? Did I miss something?

    1. You’re right to be confused–the authors of the study were too. Ground coriander, along with the milk and cream were found to be high in phthlates in the organic intervention group, but they were surprised it made this much of a difference. The authors conclude: “It may be that our findings reflect an isolated rare contamination event because of unusual processing or a packaging abnormality. It also could be the case that the food supply is systematically contaminated with high phthalate concentrations, which are difficult to identify.” Scary!

      1. I see. Well, I’d the sample size wasn’t high, so then I can see how a hoses on the organic views could be higher. Maybe they were new and hadn’t yet leached out much. But you’re right. The bottom line is, “scary”.

  10. We have thrown away all of our plastic containers such as tupperware. And now we store almost everything in glass containers. I use a lot of the mason jars with metal lids to store grains, nuts, dates, left overs in the frig., and so on. Another thing about dairy products which Dr. Greger has mentioned in several videos is that choline is present in eggs and dairy and meat. Dr. Greger has warned us that choline can feed cancer and even change into other molecules by bacterial action and these “changed” molecules are very carcinogenic. But, what amazes me is that in Mercola’s latest newsletter he is recommending eating a lot of eggs in order to boost one’s choline levels. He even says that vegans and vegetarians might be at risk for having low choline levels and that they should consider taking a choline supplement. This is scary. I read a pubmed abstract that eating eggs causes one to develop plaque in their carotid arteries. And that’s what I did for years….eat 3 eggs per day……and guess what….my choline levels went up and sure enough I developed plaque in my cartotid arteries because I took the advice of the wrong person and his newsletter.

    1. Chicken manure is also a problem, as is most animal waste. And of course, there’s always the carbon problem for the large animals. If you google “percent of climate change from livestock” you’ll see that 30% of the earth’s land is used to raise livestock and that 10% of climate change is caused by the methane from livestock. So, there’s all sorts of benefits to eliminating it.

      BTW, I started doing the glass jar a couple decades ago. I used to love to collect Laura Scudder natural peanut butter jars because of the way they looked, and I used to drink out of them, although I’d give my friends regular glasses. I took a lot of teasing for it, but the funny thing is, after awhile, visitors would casually say, oh you can put my beverage in a jar too. And then awhile after that, I noticed a few friends started doing the same thing at their homes. It was pretty funny.

      Mason jars are also great for mixing in with a long hand blender. Because of the curve at the top of the jar, liquid contents fold back down into the jar, and don’t go over the top. Works really well, and then you can just drink from the same container.

      Mark G.

    2. I too have tossed all of my plastic long ago because I noticed that both soap, which I could taste, and tomato sauce, which I could see, would penetrate into the material.

      I use mason jars as well as other glass containers, but there is always some plastic in the lid to create a seal between the lid and the vessel. It’s better than a plastic container because your food need not come into direct physical contact with plastic, but it is not plastic free.

      I still use plastic zip lock freeze bags to store things in the freezer, and I purchase frozen fruit which comes in plastic bags. I use plastic cling wrap to seal a bowl for short term storage in the fridge.

      The mixing containers of my Vitamix and food processor are plastic. My toothbrush the tube that the toothpaste comes in are made from plastic. The point is that plastic is such a useful and ubiquitous material, that I’m sure there are many other places where I am using plastic.

      1. Like you said we live in a plastic world and there is going to be no escaping it, like our ancestors in the 1800’s were able to do. However, they had to contend with the smoke of constant burning wood, and animal feces everywhere (horses). All we can do is just reduce our risks as much as possible.

  11. Today, while shopping at whole foods market I saw some coffee travel mugs that were made of “wheat-fiber”. They touted being non-BPA, but they did not say that they were non-toxic, so I did a search for “wheat fiber plastics”. I did find similar cups made by Lakafee and sold through AliExpress.com. Another product that looks similar and of the same material that’s sold on Alibaba also appears to no longer be available. (Both have lots of images on google image search.) And one result that came back was a similar product made from only organic fallen leaves and water. It can be composted easily in the garden. That one’s made by VerTerra.com. And one company that I’ve been watching for a few years (but doesn’t seem to be moving fast) is zeoform.com Which says they only use fiber and water and that’s all and they can turn their product into almost anything.

    Anyway, I’m curious if anyone has looked into any of these and knows anything about them. It sounds sort of promising, but I’ve been seeing utensils made of food fiber starch come and go in local take out places and promises of a revolution in the industry. But I haven’t really seen anything take off and hear that nothing that’s clean will stand up to more than a one-time use, if that. Anyone up on this?

    Here’s an interesting related site that tracks this stuff: http://worldcentric.org/about-compostables

    Mark G.

  12. We don’t do meat, dairy, poultry, eggs. Once a week or so we’ll do wild caught fish in a can (BPA of course) or in a plastic wrapped package. I wonder how much phthalates is in the packaging? The fish, exmple salmon, is usually fast frozen at sea just after caught and in a shrink wrapped plastic pouch. We do eat algae grown in drinking water, no ocean toxins. The algae is in a capsule. Wonder if there are phthalates in that?

  13. Aloha Dr. Greger,
    in your blog post regarding the safety of Monsanto’s glyphosate you say “It’s the dose that makes the poison” – while the Paracelsus Axiom, which you are quoting, may have been true in the 1500’s, with the advent of endocrine disrupting toxins the opposite can be true (see Theo Colborn’s “Our Stolen Future”) which describes how lower doses can be more adverse at certain stages of development. Additionally. when we consider the probable ramifications of the synergistic effect of various toxins – something for which there have been essentially no studies done – it seems as though the “first do no harm” (Hippocratic Oath) would be the context we’d be discussing this within! It seems reasonable that the Precautionary Principle would be the active framework for these kinds of discussions – ie The precautionary principle (or precautionary approach) to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public, or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus (that the action or policy is not harmful), the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action that may or may not be a risk.
    It is jaw dropping to me that “doctors” and “scientists” are so easily manipulated to arguing and discussing these matters within the parameters created by corporate interests!!!!!!!! We know for example that the breastmilk of US mothers contain hundreds of chemicals….does it really require an “expert” to know that this isn’t a good thing and that it’s certainly doing harm?
    Jeff Hay Honolulu, HI

  14. There’s are some obvious sources of pthalate contamination in industrial poultry farming. The chicks’ water is delivered from barn length stretches of industry standard 7/8″ OD square PVC tubing. A high interior surface to volume ratio, slow water movement, and often high barn temperatures would all increase migration to the water. Perhaps more importantly, as pthalates are more oil-soluble, pthalates migrate from plastic tanks to the vegetable oil used in feed mixtures.

    1. Also, hydroponically-grown vegetables are grown (often) in PVC tubes of flowing water to which nitrogen and other chemicals are added for plant growth. I do not know, however, if these tubes are “food grade” or not.
      Nonetheless, . . .this makes me feel “ewy”.

  15. Well, Dr. G. prescribes daily turmeric. Where I shop it only seems to be available in plastic jars. Even the organic spices I buy come in plastic jars. In fact, just about everything I don’t grow myself comes in plastic. And if these things are really so damaging to reproductive health then why has the global human population doubled in my short adult lifetime and why is it increasing exponentially? Things are getting difficult.

    1. bhrollin: For what it’s worth, I get my turmeric from the bulk section of my local health food store. The spices are stored in glass containers. I don’t know if this glass-bulk option is available in your area or not. I mention it in case you hadn’t checked out this option.
      .
      Also note that it appears to be fairly easy to get turmeric from glass containers on line if that is something you want to do: https://www.amazon.com/Simply-Organic-Certified-2-38-Ounce-Container/dp/B000WR4LMY/ref=sr_1_2_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1468898906&sr=8-2&keywords=turmeric
      .
      re: “If these things are really so damaging…” One of the experts in the Forks Over Knives bonus section talked about how she has a good success rate of curing couple’s infertility through diet changes. If I remember correctly, NutritionFacts has a video on this general subject, though it had a slightly different angle I think. Anyway, there is no reason why both problems can not be true. Our population is growing exponentially, so there could be negative effects from the phthalates, but just not enough to stop population growth. That doesn’t mean the chemicals are not a real problem. At this point, given the population problem you mention, one might look at the impact of phthalates as a plus rather than a negative. What would our population be today if we weren’t polluting ourselves so badly? Yikes. (Just some conjecture.)

  16. What about commercial tempeh which is cultured in plastic bags, and tofu which is often pasteurised in its plastic wrapper. Does anyone know if these have been tested for phthalates or other plastic contaminants?

  17. It is important to acknowledge that during a 48hr fast, one’s detoxifying systems upregulate significantly because the body is not preoccupied with digesting food. Levels of many bad things in our bodies would drop, including those not strongly related to diet.
    Having said this, I don’t doubt our phthalate levels are nonetheless mostly influenced by diet

  18. My reverse osmosis water filter had lots of tubing, including from the filter to the storage tank, and from the storage tank to the faucet. RO is supposed to be the best/safest water. Is the tubing adding phthalate? Hospital IV tubing?

    1. Your linked paper has a misleading title, as the study made no measurements (eg, via carotid ultrasound or autopsy) of atherosclerosis, nor did it do any epidemiology to demonstrate higher cardiovascular risk. It simply applied the Framingham risk factors to estimate that, if these patient’s showed similar associations as the Framingham study population, they would be expected to have more atherosclerosis.

      Its long been known that vegetarians are at higher risk of elevated homocysteine (Hcy), even in Western populations. The culprit is usually not methionine deficiency as suggested by your cited paper, but vitamin B12 deficiency. B9 (folate) deficiency might also be implicated where staple foods aren’t fortified and few greens are consumed, and Chad is not a green country. With respect to cardiovascular risk, the failure of Hcy lowering vitamin B-complex trials and lack of association with genetic predispositions to high Hcy have cast doubt on a causal role for Hcy, which now appears to be a coincident marker of high methionine intake (which elevates Hcy while causing atherosclerosis independently of Hcy levels in animal studies), and low folate intake. Too much meat, too few greens.

  19. Well that settles it for me. No more spice purchases from organic sellers on Amazon (e.g. Indus) that sell everything in plastic jars. Moving to foil packaging sellers like Frontier and Starwest.
    And a reminder: “BPA-free” never mentions being BPS-free. For a reason. Little known BPA industry substitute BPS is just as bad and even worse than BPA.
    Just avoid plastics. And recycled paper anything. And canned food. And don’t store food in old canning jars. Or old mason jars. Or lead-containing glass jars and bottles. Search up the last three for some disquieting reading.

    1. Thanks for your question Vanessa.

      According to this study mentioned by Dr Greger, it seems like they have it themselves:

      “the finding that egg consump­tion is significantly associated with levels of MEHP suggests that chickens themselves may be contaminated with phthalates and that food is not being contaminated just through packaging and processing.”

      How they are contaminated with it, is harder to tell.

      Hope this answer helps.

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