Hormone Imbalance- the External Cause

Drs. Richard and Karilee Shames


For health practitioners and lay people who choose to look beyond the confines of standard medical practice, it is becoming increasingly clear that many of today's illnesses are a result of toxic buildup in our bodies, as has never been seen before to our knowledge in human history. Recent studies have shown that mother's breast milk contains dangerously high amounts of poisons, also taken into the body via the air, food, and water. Whereas breast milk has been created by nature as the best and most perfect food for the new infant, our modern chemical assault on the environment is forcing us to reconsider how we live, how we procreate, and how we die. Worldwide, fertility rates are declining, a testament to this disruption.

As previously mentioned, the endocrine system is comprised of various glands that control critical functions, including basic metabolism and reproduction. One of our major concerns in writing this book is related to hormone disruption, what we are calling "assaulted" or "tired" glands.

Hormones are extremely potent, and operate at concentrations so low that they can be measured only with the most sensitive analytical methods. For example, the estradiol that many women take in efforts to balance their sex hormones is active in concentrations of parts per trillion, not parts per million or parts per billion. This degree of sensitivity is likely to be beyond the realm of our mental comprehension.

Levels of chemical contamination that would not show up as toxic in a laboratory study are nevertheless sufficient to cause hormonal disruption in an adult. Also, these same low levels can cause severe and permanent damage, at very low concentrations, if the fetus is exposed to them en utero.

Therefore, though operating at extremely minute doses, these hormones are totally crucial to who we are; their balance dictates what we become.

If you have in the environment hormone-like substances,
or hormone-disrupting substances, becoming "fat, fuzzy, or frazzled"
can happen at very low concentrations, much lower than what might cause cancer years later.

They could be seriously affecting us now, without our knowing it.

In addition to normal daily function, normal growth & development depends on getting just the right hormone message, in exactly the right amount, to just the right place - at the right time. Missing the "cue", the right stimulus at the right time, can result in lifelong problems. Similarly, injecting something foreign at specific times can have lifelong impact. Let's view some examples.

DES: A Notorious Example of the Problems with Synthetic Hormones

As a very powerful illustration, let's take a look at Diethylstilbestrol, commonly known as DES, a pharmaceutical drug supplied years ago to over 5 million women, purportedly to prevent miscarriages. Developed in the late 1930's, it was being touted by Grant Chemical Company even by 1957, which took out ads in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, claiming it produced bigger, stronger babies, encouraging its use for all pregnancies.

At that time, people thought many problems were due to lack of estrogen. DES was, in fact, the first created synthetic estrogen, which was considered a miracle breakthrough. It was given in pregnancy to prevent miscarriage, premature birth, to suppress milk production after childbirth, to alleviate hot flashes after menopause, to treat acne, even as a morning-after contraceptive in young women. It was also used in livestock to fatten the animals. And, worst of all, it was a terrible disaster.

Amazingly, it didn't harm the mothers who were given this drug, but rather it affected their developing babies, who were left with lifelong problems of major proportions. It ruined the chances for countless women to become pregnant, causing rare cancers, such as clear-cell carcinoma of the vagina, in millions of women. Without causing problems for the moms who were given the drug, and without causing birth defects, it took many years before the true "mutations" became evident. By then, sadly, the damage had been done.

To add insult to injury, a later study found that while DES was being touted to prevent miscarriage, it actually never helped to reduce their incidence. In addition, it caused cancer. Many DES babies, now grown women, have had painful removal of their vagina and uterus, yet after all this some still died from the long-term effects of this drug.
Amazingly (or perhaps not so amazingly) it wasn't until 1971 that the New England Journal of Medicine *** published a paper showing the correlation between mothers taking DES and daughters being adversely affected, especially in presenting with rare cancers that were usually seen only in older women. Richard recalls that this drug was still being used when he was in medical school in 1971. ( Herbst AL, Ulfelder H, Poskanzer DC. Adenocarcinoma of the vagina: association of maternal stilbestrol therapy with tumor appearance in young women. N Engl J Med 1971;284:878-81)

Most problematic is the fact that researchers would never have linked this artificial hormone to the cancer problem if it hadn't resulted in an exceptionally rare kind of cancer that usually was only seen in older women. In other words, it was pure luck that they developed this particular kind of cancer, or we may never have linked DES with the problems that were increasingly being seen!

It now appears that DES exposed women have a greater likelihood of developing auto-immune diseases, such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Grave's Disease, as well as other rheumatoid problems, stemming from a disruption in immune regulation. What is intriguing is that the auto-immune illnesses become more common and severe as we age, but the DES daughters are subject to even greater auto-immune challenges than others as they age. Therefore, we still don't know the full extent of damage.

The animal studies with DES show that the DES daughters in mice and hamsters have a masculinization pattern, which affects their behavior throughout adult life. This makes us wonder if women, and perhaps men having difficulties in adult life, may have had aberrant hormone exposure as a cause. For instance, there are startling high rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and phobias in both men and women exposed to DES en utero.

This entire episode has been a tragic and unintended experiment on a very large sample of women. A recent book, The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women by Barbara Seaman (Hyperion, 2003) further addresses this unfortunate DES chapter. It sheds light on the recent and apparently recurrent pattern of the medical and pharmaceutical industries pushing the lucrative estrogen preparations into women's bodies, potentially causing irreparable harm for generations to come.

The lesson is clear: artificial chemicals can cross the placenta and disrupt aspects of the developing human, with serious and lifelong consequences that may not be evident until much later in life, and may in fact defy current diagnosis. It is not only the gross and immediately apparent birth defects that we have to be concerned about, such as lack of arms in thalidomide babies, but it is also invisible damage that can undermine growth and development, success, fulfillment, and enjoyment of life. To a lesser degree, in early stages, it can make you "fat, fuzzy, or frazzled".

This is a huge lesson for us. Today, we are all part of another grand and perhaps unintended experiment. However, we can no longer claim naivete' when there are tens of thousands of chemicals being poured into our bodies, and our environments, without adequate and unbiased long-term studies to address their potential impact on us. It has been said, "Fool you once, shame on them. Fool you twice, shame on you!" Are we paying attention now?

It is very clear that the human body can mistake a man-made chemical for a hormone, which then disrupts normal hormone action.

Since we live in an environment increasingly filled with chemicals that have
hormone-disrupting effects, it may be many years, or decades, before a fuller understanding of the impact of all this can be reviewed. For now, we must be aware of potential harm, and act accordingly in our own best interests.

The Possible Long-term Impact of Chemicals on Humans.

Keep in mind that most hormones in our bodies are relatively short-lived, meaning that the time they have to actually do their magic is limited. They are produced by the body at certain critical junctures, in response to messenger molecule feedback between the brain and endocrine system.

Synthetic chemicals, on the other hand, act very differently. Whereas natural hormones are made of organic materials that can readily be altered and excreted by the body, such as carbon dioxide or water, human-made chemicals can remain for the entire life of the individual, creating cumulative, worsening, ongoing impact.

Many of these hormone-mimicking substances are actually hormone disruptors, chemical compounds that resist the normal wear and tear process in our bodies or the environment. Some, such as polychlorinated bi-phenyls, can remain in the environment for hundreds of years. This kind of hormonal exposure is unprecedented in its potential damage to humans and animals.

When you have a chemical capable of altering specific hormonal pathways, or which can jam hormonal messages, that is problem in itself. In the case of DES, it was discovered years later that this substance does not bind to sex-hormone binding globulin, which normally releases a small amount of what is bound in the bloodstream into the general circulation. When we have lots of estrogenic compounds in the bloodstream, small amounts become unbound, carried by certain molecules into our tissues.

Since DES doesn't bind to globulin protein, all of it was free in the bloodstream, eventually moving into tissues and having impact on that level. How did that translate into health concerns? To understand this dilemma better, let's look at the case of one woman who was affected a generation later from a pharmaceutical agent that altered her entire life, DES. 

Karla's Story

Karla, 49 at the time of this writing, is a health educator. She has developed her life's work as a mission based on her own experience. When Karla was en utero, her mother was given DES, or diethylstilbesterol. After a lifetime of complications, she has dedicated herself to speaking about this topic, educating women about health issues in order to take some of the pain out of her difficult plight. She clearly intends to make a difference for others.

Prior to the pregnancy with Karla, her mother miscarried in her first pregnancy. At that time, DES was hailed as a miracle drug, so her doctor put her mother on DES to try to prevent a future miscarriage. She was taking this drug throughout her second pregnancy, during whicpph she was carrying twins. Those twins, Karla and her sister, were born healthy.

Over decades, it was discovered that both girls and boys born of women who took DES in pregnancy had very high rates of cancer in puberty. In Karla's situation, she had pre-cancerous uterine cysts requiring special treatment; her twin sister had endometriosis. Both had very difficult menstrual challenges.

Amazingly, at age 19, Karla was put on birth control pills for cramps. She remained on the pill for 14 years. When she went off the pill to become pregnant, she experienced severe problems with her periods. The doctor put her back on the pill for two more years, at which point her body swelled, making her extremely uncomfortable. She eventually became pregnant, but had a miscarriage at eight weeks, which happened again at the age of 42.

During that time, around ages 39 and 40, Karla received Lupron injections, a synthetic drug to clean the uterine walls and lining to eliminate possible blockages. After her second miscarriage, however, she was advised that her uterus was too small, and misshapen, to carry a pregnancy.

She claims that she has never been the same since taking the Lupron. "I was a total mess" is how she described her body's response to this pharmaceutical approach. Now, in peri-menopause, she has learned about more natural methods to help her feel better.

For Karla, the wakeup call came through a good friend, a holistic health specialist and nutritionist, who told her in no uncertain terms to get off the chemicals. Her friend explained that that they are very dangerous, causing cancers. Instead, she was advised to try natural progesterone cream.

In fact, Karla's friend had to support her significantly through this experience. She had to first wean herself off the chemical hormones, then wait until her body began to have enough of the natural hormones to relieve symptoms. During this transitional period, she suffered from major hot flashes, night sweats, memory loss, insomnia, irritability, and mood alterations. Gratefully, after three months the creams began to take away most of her symptoms, resulting in much more ease and comfort in her life.

Karla is what we call an "activated consumer". After many years of problems due to medically-caused symptoms, she began to take charge of her health, and to accept that if she wanted to live fully and well, she would need to understand much more about her own body. Realizing that many of her health challenges were iatrogenic (medically caused), she made a decision to start first with natural healing modalities, rather than beginning with the strongest, most potent synthetic medicines created. Karla became a powerful advocate, not only for herself, but for others as well.

While it was understood that these powerful pharmaceutical agents played a key role in fighting major disease, Karla also began to comprehend that the body has an innate wisdom of its own, as evidenced when we cut our finger. Any simple injury can heal itself - IF - we keep it clean from foreign agents, and allow some time for the healing process.

In the same way, we can heal many challenges to our bodies by simply applying basic sound principles of hygiene and self-care, over time. Our present medical system has "dis-empowered" many of us, taking away our belief in our bodies, using seven syllable words to intimidate and obfuscate.

Thus, a bruise becomes an "echymosis", and almost every simple imbalance we may encounter has medical terminology to describe it to an elite set of providers, who then are the only ones with the power to prescribe the specifically created, medically sanctioned pharmaceutical solutions.

To this end, women have been told that many of their symptoms, and feelings, are pathological. Pregnancy and menopause, as well as childbirth, have become medical conditions, leaving women in the dark.

Those who seek their own ways are considered misguided, ignorant, or - in the case of women choosing home births or alternative therapies for their children, possibly criminal. There are often strong and negative repercussions for those who follow their own inner health guidance, and that of their loved ones. Medical freedom issues remain some of the very challenging civil rights concerns in our highly technological society.

Now, when Karla meets younger women and learns that they are taking hormone shots, she strongly encourages them to try alternatives. As she tells them: "The drug companies don't care about you. They've been using women as guinea pigs for years."

Recently, after only a few years, the Women's Health Initiative, a study originally designed as a long-term evaluation of midlife women on hormones, was abandoned due to the confirmation of serious health consequences. Consequently, millions of women are being taken off hormone replacement therapy (HRT), with very little guidance as to how to proceed. Thousands of women are left feeling physically horrible, frightened, and uncertain about how to deal with their many hormonal issues. Doctors, predictably, are responding by putting these women on antidepressant drugs!

Women have special health needs, as do men, and children. Many women have thyroid problems, and can learn to benefit from self-care, including liver detoxification and other cleansing rituals. People like Karla, who have had chemical insults to their bodies, are often devoted to preparing others in avoiding a similar fate. The public is thirsty for valid health information.

While people seek better ways to support their health, the pharmaceutical industry maintains a tight grip on the U.S. economy. Their excessive income from developing these drugs allows them to purchase the time and interest of our politicians, who then frequently lobby and vote according to monetary flow. Where does this all lead the health consumer? Many are viewing televised commercials that suggest specific drugs for their multiple health problems, without allowing adequate time for discussion about the potential serious side effects. This misrepresentation of the serious consequences further numbs the public into complacency.

Karla solved some of the dilemma about where to go to get less harmful products by becoming involved with a company that makes natural products used as alternatives to pharmaceuticals. As she leaves her child-bearing years sadly, without children, she has channeled her grief into providing information that can support others in their quest for knowledge.

"It helps me to help other women. I pine for children, and have a deep feeling of irrevocable loss due to my inability to have my own. Sharing my story gives me a sense of purpose to help other women with my information so they don't end up like me, and like other women who were experimented on, with disastrous and lifelong results."

It is becoming increasingly apparent, much to everyone's dismay,
that we are slowly being flooded by a massive wave
of endocrine disruption. Some of the long-term effects
of chemical exposures may be infertility, predisposition to cancer,
and, most commonly, the symptoms of disordered metabolism.

This country is no exception to the alarming worldwide decrease in sperm counts noted in recent years. Global reports of striking deformities in sex organs and mating behaviors of birds, frogs, fish, and mammals have - until recently - confounded the scientists.

Our best scientists, with three decades of painstaking research, are now reporting that many widely used synthetic chemicals, including insecticides, plasticizers, and electric components previously considered safe are actually having devastating hormonal effects. It seems that the striking rise in environmental hormone-disrupting chemicals parallels the striking rise in hormone-related illness in humans. If you think these observations could be related, then please read on.

DDT: A Disastrous Accidental Hormone

We'd now like to share stories collected by Colborn, Dumanosky, and Myers in their riveting volume Our Stolen Future (Dutton, 1996). We applaud the courage of such scientists in delineating the concept of hormone disruption, and how it could be threatening our fertility, intelligence, and survival.

DES is merely the first synthetic estrogen marketed as a drug. Other synthetic estrogens have only been discovered after the fact, for they were first created to be insecticides!

The most notorious example of this phenomenon is the now banned chemical DDT. Oddly enough, DDT was first created the same year that DES was invented, in 1938. This fantastic new pesticide was lauded as a breakthrough, and a boon to humanity. It was certainly deadly on the insect population.

In retrospect, it is curious that scientists could consider a chemical so deadly to insects to be harmless to humans. Perhaps this kind of disconnect in thought warrants another discussion later, about the power of denial and how it conveniently allows major industry, even physicians, to abdicate responsibility.

When we grew up in the 1950's, DDT was sprayed to keep mosquitoes down. A truck would come by and spread enormous amounts of this chemical in clouds of fog blanketing our neighborhoods. As children, we can recall seeing a demonstration of the safety of this maneuver. A Boy Scout troop was having a cookout, grilling and eating hamburgers and hot dogs surrounded by DDT clouds. Karilee recalls running with her favorite cousin Sherry through the fog, following in the wake of the truck. Sherry was diagnosed with breast cancer as an adult.

It was only years later that DDT was found to mimic the effect of estrogen in the body. This effect was first observed in an animal laboratory test of roosters exposed to DDT. The roosters became feminized, looking and acting much more like hens. Gradually more experiments confirmed this finding.

The effect on humans was documented over decades, and eventually the substance was banned from use, but not before billions of tons of DDT were widely distributed in the environment. The big problem is that DDT, as we have already mentioned, is a persistent chemical. Banning its use is very much like locking the barn door after the horse has run away.

Not only does every animal on the planet show traces of DDT stored in its fat, but the concentration in human mother's milk currently approaches levels toxic enough to suggest that the breast milk should not be fed to babies. A governing body reviewing breast milk might, in fact, deem it unfit for human consumption.

Even this is not the worst of the problem.

DDT is just one chemical that was banned;
There have been many thousands more currently in wide usage,
whose possible hormone-disrupting effects have not even been evaluated.

PCB's: Considered Innocuous, Proved Disastrous

Another notorious example is PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls). These were developed as insulation material in electrical equipment. It was not known to what extent this rather innocuous chemical, also used as a flame retardant, had hormone-disrupting effects. It happens to be another extremely persistent chemical in the environment, and is now widely distributed in the ecosphere, in every state of the union, the most distant deserts, and into polar regions.

In fact, when one group of researchers wanted to find a control group for a PCB experiment, they went all the way to the Baffin Islands in the Arctic, thinking that in this remote frozen country, they would find a more pristine and untainted group of animals to evaluate. Imagine their surprise when they discovered that the polar bears in this remote land had higher levels of PCB's than the animals of the United States!

The Dioxin Dilemma

Here's yet another example. In the realm of synthetic chemicals, none is more notorious than the dioxin family. They are considered the most deadly, and most feared, of all the toxic chemicals. One-millionth of one gram is sometimes enough to kill a guinea pig, and this chemical family has the dubious distinction of being the most potent chemical carcinogen ever tested in a number of animal species.

In contradistinction to previous chemicals we have discussed, dioxin was not created intentionally. It is an inadvertent byproduct; a contaminant created during the manufacture of other chemicals, like pesticides and wood preservatives, and also occurs in the burning of plastics.

Like DDT and PCB's, dioxin is a very persistent chemical in the environment. It is also similarly fat-loving, and therefore accumulates in the adipose tissues of our bodies. Like DDT and PCB's, it has been detected virtually everywhere on the planet.

There are close to a hundred different variants in the dioxin chemical family. It is one of the most noxious contaminants of the notorious "agent orange", used in the Viet Nam war as a defoliant, later found to have created very curious cancers in thousands of soldiers involved in that war. The National Academy of Sciences, in a 1993 report, implicated dioxin-contaminated herbicides with three different human cancers: Hodgkins disease, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and soft tissue sarcoma.

Perhaps of wider import than the cancer effect is the ability of dioxin to interfere with hormone levels in the body. In animal studies, rats given dioxin experienced decreased testosterone levels, and decrease in size of various sex organs. It also appeared to affect sexual behavior of male "pups" born to mothers given dioxin. In addition, the pups showed a decrease in sperm count by as much as forty percent.

It appears that dioxin acts like a powerful and persistent hormone, capable of producing major effects at very low levels. What is most intriguing is that these animal studies found significant effects at levels of dioxin that humans were exposed to regularly.

Fluoride: A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Passed

One of the most well-meaning and honored scientific traditions in this country has been the addition of fluoride to municipal water supplies for the prevention of tooth decay. The outgoing Surgeon General of the US at the turn of the millennium heralded this maneuver as one of the top ten health achievements of the 20th century.

However, like some of the above-mentioned substances previously thought to be innocuous, fluoride is beginning to show its true colors. This substance, touted as harmless, has been used by the medical profession in the past to slow down the activity of overactive thyroid glands. It is no longer used medically for this purpose since the development of better medicines, Propylthiouracil (PTU), and Methemazole (Tapazole).

It turns out that fluoride is actually capable of slowing down more body tissues that just the thyroid. Well before it was ever used to fluoridate drinking water, its use in industry was known to be hazardous on exposed workers. Its disposal was known to be hazardous to farm animals and crops.

Recent revelations provided by the Freedom of Information Act suggest that the conversion in our thinking regarding this element as "poisonous" to now "beneficial" was a carefully-engineered sales job on the part of big industry in collusion with government-paid researchers.

The original research that supposedly proved the benefits of fluoride on teeth used naturally occurring fluoride, sodium fluoride, on research animals. This is not what is being used in public water supplies today. Instead, the fertilizer and aluminum industry waste product, hydrofluosilicic acid, has been substituted to fluoridate waters.

The startling reality is that there has been no good water safety research on this substance. Nonetheless, the public has been told that at the concentrations used, this is a completely safe maneuver (even though research reports in reputable journals from around the world strongly suggest otherwise). We do know that virtually all of the 1500 scientists, engineers, and lawyers of the EPA headquarters in Washington DC has unanimously stood against fluoridation through their professional employees union (***).

With the mounting scientific evidence against this practice, more and more nations are rejecting it. Less than 5% of the worlds population drinks artificially fluoridated water (most naturally occurring water has some sodium fluoride), and in Europe its only 2%. A number of countries have either rejected or banned fluoridation of public water, including Japan, Denmark, Sweden, India, Holland, with a number of cases currently pending.

The medical doctors of the orthomolecular/ health community in the SF Bay Area have consistently come out against fluoridation, and not just because of its adverse effect on thyroid at concentrations used in public water. In addition, there appears to be an increase in lead uptake for children, causing decrease in IQ, increase in brittle bones, and osteosarcomas in young males (bone cancers). Most recently pediatricians have strongly advised that very young children not be exposed to fluoride at all.

The number of research studies, papers, and scientists opposing this practice is overwhelming. Public officials, however, or doctors and scientists employed by various government agencies, are still clearly on the side of fluoridation. We certainly understand why. It would be unthinkable, for the government agencies, particularly the US Public Health Service, to willingly admit to the most colossal mistake in the history of government science.

Thus, once again, we see a previously considered innocuous substance in turning out to be not so innocuous after all. And, the initial response of the authorities is to be in denial until the evidence mounts to the point where the damage is totally overwhelming, allowing more people than is necessary to be damaged.

Animal Commentary: Failure of the Eco-sphere

Over the same course of time that these researchers were doing their laboratory experiments, biologists in the field were noticing very strange events that they could not explain. In the 1950s, the bald eagles on the Gulf Coast of Florida took a sudden drop in population. The behavior of the eagles was odd; they appeared to have very little interest in the ordinary nesting ritual. The result was an amazing drop in the number of young eaglets. Over time it became clear that as much as 80% of these bald eagles were sterile.

Just as the previously robust eagle population in a certain area dived, the otter population in Britain began to have difficulty. In fact, by the end of 50's, there were not enough otters for the annual otter hunt in those areas. The otters had vanished from the waterways where they had previously always been found in great numbers.

The culprit was only discovered later, in the form of the pesticide Dieldrin, which had decimated animal populations all over Europe.

In the 1960's, in Lake Michigan, the mink industry had a terrible new problem (for the mink industry). The baby minks weren't being produced in adequate numbers. It seemed that the females did not give birth as often, and when they did, they lost their babies prematurely. The ranchers that escaped this problem were the ones that did not feed the minks fish from the lake. The reproductive disruption was eventually linked to contamination of the lake from PCB's.

Oddly, another group of mink ranchers that faced similar financial ruin a decade earlier had fed their animals chickens that had been given DES to make them grow faster. Not only did the synthetic chemical used to insulate electrical equipment prove to be disastrous, but it closely resembled the effects of an actual prescription synthetic hormone, DES.

In the 1970's, there was a die-off of a formerly robust population of herring gulls. There were unhatched eggs, abandoned nests, and dead chicks in the breeding grounds. In addition, there were grotesque deformities, such as twisted bills, missing eyes, or clubbed feet. This was happening in the wild, around Lake Ontario, but it closely resembled an almost identical scene that occurred in the laboratory when chickens were exposed to dioxin.

In the Channel Islands off Southern California, the western gull's normal nesting behavior was becoming disrupted. Naturalists were finding females nesting with other females. The nests had unusually large number of eggs, and yet each nest was producing fewer than the normal number of hatched chicks. The clue of abnormally thin eggshells pointed to the diagnosis that these birds were suffering from DDT exposure.

In the 1980's, in Lake Apopka, Florida, the alligator farmers were having a problem. There were not enough alligator eggs, as there previously had been, to support the state's multi-million dollar alligator industry. In most Florida Lakes that have alligators, 80-90% of eggs laid actually hatch. At this particular lake, the percentage hatched was less than 20%. Moreover, half of the babies died within the first ten days. This was believed to be connected to the chemical spill from a plant close to the shore of the lake. But, that had been years ago, and the lakes waters were now considered to be clean by experts testing the water. When biologists began to examine this area more closely, they found that more than half of the alligators they examined had exceptionally small penises. There had never been, to anyone's recollection, a toxic effect like this.

In the late 1980's, in Sweden and Denmark, members of the harbor seal populations began to wash up on the shores. These were adults and aborted pups. Eventually this phenomenon spread to the Scottish Coast and the Irish Sea. The biologists estimated that many thousands of seals had died in a short time, representing close to half of the entire North Sea population. The cause of this massive loss was eventually tracked to be a distemper virus, but - the seals that were most susceptible to the virus were the ones who lived in the most chemically polluted waters. In addition to the direct effects, here was an example of exposure to chemical toxicity causing an indirect effect on the immune system.

In the early 1990's, there was another massive die-off of striped dolphins near the eastern coast of Spain. Soon, it became apparent that the dolphins around the islands of Catalonia and Mallorca were dying as well. The stricken dolphins seemed to have had partially collapsed lungs. More and more animals began washing up on the Italian and French coasts as well. In the following years, this spread to the Greek Islands, and eventually the toll amounted to more than a thousand dolphins that had washed ashore. The wildlife specialists of Europe estimated that for every dolphin washed ashore, possibly three or four had died at sea.

The culprit seemed to be, once again, a distemper virus, but there were even more conclusive signs this time that chemical contamination played a major role in the animals' susceptibility to the illness. Careful tracking and humane animal tissue sampling revealed that the major difference between the dead animals and those still alive frolicking in the waves was that those washed up on shore had PCB levels two to three times higher than their healthy cousins.

In the mid 1990's, a reproductive researcher at the University of Copenhagen was troubled to see greater and greater sperm abnormalities in humans, as well as a dramatic drop in typical sperm count. When he compared his findings with those in other parts of the world, he was astounded to find that human male sperm counts had dropped by almost 50% between 1940 and 1990 (Colborn pg. 9). Researchers concluded that such a rapid change over such a short period of time seems to clearly be some environmental effect.

What Does This All Mean?

These examples from across the globe, in very different animals, including humans, have pointed to a troubling trend.

Something is seriously wrong.
This is not simple acute short-term poisoning at work.
This phenomenon, instead, represents a scrambling of messages
over the long term.

This appears to be hormonal disruption. It is affecting the fish, the birds, and the animals. It affects their behavior, not just their reproduction. Humans are not exempt from this phenomenon. Hormonal disruption, for us, can take many forms. It can be the dramatic and lifelong difficulty that Karla had after DES exposure, or it can be more subtle and temporary, such as difficulties with weight, mental focus, or mood.

We are saturated, living in a sea of chemicals….

If you are challenged by feeling fat, foggy, or frazzled, or similar ongoing symptoms that have been hard to diagnose and treat effectively, you can deal with this situation much more effectively - IF you can determine the cause.

You, like most people, may think that environmental pollution is one of those unfortunate tradeoffs in modern living, where perhaps a very small number of people (hopefully not us!) will get cancer, or have a baby with birth defects. We are here to tell you, right now, today, that it is not simply a few people who are showing rare health problems. Some of the most common, most ordinary, and most frustrating daily life conditions have this silent epidemic of glandular disruption as their hidden cause.

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The Canary Club is an educational advisory group with a team of medical advisors headed by Richard Shames, M.D.