Posted 08/13/2023 11:43:15
Category: Articles & News
Our Stolen Future
Pathways to Restoration
The book Our Stolen Future (Colburn, Dumanoski, Myers) remains required reading for our students at the Institute of Natural Health Sciences. Authors Colburn, et.al. expose scientific research of the Great Lakes region over the last 50 years, depicting how chemical toxicity has interfered with virtually all aspects of bodily function. Hormonal control of development is vulnerable to disruption by synthetic chemicals, altering the natural course of development. This affects all wildlife in the environment, including a species of major interest – us!
One of our recent graduates, Alice Moore, DiHOM, has graciously offered to share her book summary, presented to the class. (Well, I did coax her to share, as it provide a concise synopsis of key points, for those who prefer a cliff notes version).
Despite this reckless contamination of the “waters in which we swim”, know that natural medicine can correct many of these disruptions in the regulatory pathways. These are not often the quick fixes of taking a few pills/supplements and all returns to normal. Balancing delicate mechanisms, and restoring the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis, can take time to modify and repair. We are open systems that operate and modulate under complex feedback mechanisms - nanomolecular chemistry, electromagentic and quantum wave functions, and fractals, in attempts to reach a sort of homeostasis.
The Arndt-Schultz law provides the basis for restoration of delicate function through Homotoxicology and Homeopathic Remedies. That is: small doses stimulate, medium doses suppress, and large doses kill. In other words, the action of small and very large doses of the same substance on living matter is poles apart. The extreme sensitivity and extraordinarily complex conditions of the human body permits the system to be affected by very minor changes. As you read the rather disheartening research below, take heart in the fact that natural medicine can, has, and will continue to heal these effects. Thank you, Alise, for sharing!
Our Stolen Future – Report by Alise Moore, DiHOM
Our Stolen Future (Colburn, Dumanoski, Myers) chronicles the threat and toll chemicals of chemical toxicity in our environment and our bodies. In 1987, Ms. Colburn was hired to assess the environmental health of the Great Lakes. She had a strong gut feeling that the proclamations of the lakes’ recovery were premature. She doubted that the health of the lakes, while improved, were truly cleaned up. Because the data showed something was seriously wrong.
- 1950’s - England. Otters were disappearing. The pesticide dieldrin was suspected. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that evidence was analyzed.
- 1952 - Florida. Strange behavior and no mating are found in the eagle population. 80% were found to be sterile.
- Mid 1960’s - Lake Michigan. Female minks weren’t producing pups. This reproductive failure was linked to PCB’s.
- 1970’s - Lake Ontario. Unmatched eggs, dead chicks and abandoned nests were found. Dioxin is suspected.
- Southern California, female gulls are nesting with other females.
- 1980’s - Florida. Alligator hatching barely reaches 18%, half of the babies hatched died within 10 days.
- 1988 - Northern Europe. More than 40% of North Sea Seal population died.
- 1990 - Mediterranean Sea. A virulent disease broke out among striped dolphins. PCB levels were suspected.
- 1992 - Denmark. Male sperm counts dropped by almost 50%, testicular cancer jumped sharply.
Colburn’s review of hundreds and hundreds of wildlife studies brought about the conviction that the wildlife work and studies had likely implications for human health and constituted a warning humans ought to heed. What’s happening to wildlife could very well be happening to humans.
Environmentalists claimed the waters had been cleaned up. They had to be cleaned up because in 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire. Lake Erie was considered dead. The feds had restricted DDT in 1972. Eagle populations had recovered. But the proclamations were premature. Scientists were still finding deformities, and vanishing mink populations. Something was still seriously wrong, but it wasn’t obvious. Abnormal parenting and behavior are not immediately apparent but are no less important for species survival.
Colburn started looking at the Great Lakes and cancer rates. Cancer was a hot topic at the time. Fish with tumors were found at factory discharge pipes. There were no increased cancer rates in people most fish problems were not cancer. They found feminized males, lack of mating, physical abnormalities. The preoccupation with cancer blinded her to the big picture.
That DDT and other chemicals were like the female hormone estrogen. Colburn now suspected hormone disruption.
Human studies usually focus on cancer in exposed adults, only a handful looked for the effects on children of exposed people. She was now looking at the parallels between wildlife and humans. Chemicals were affecting the young before birth, through hand me down poisons. These poisons act on the endocrine system and disrupt hormones. There is not only disruption to consider, but also the body’s receptors, binding, the body’s sensitivity, absorption, concentration, how it is stored in the body. What seems like minuscule amounts has massive effects. It’s not parts per million or billion, it's trillion. That’s 1 drop in a 660-tank car. That’s one drop in a train 6 miles long.
Some disruptors were obvious. In 1962 babies were being born without limbs, caused by the drug, thalidomide, given during pregnancy. The deformities depended on the timing, not the dose. In the early 1970’s DES, a synthetic estrogen, was given almost as a vitamin to treat nausea, sleep, and miscarriages. It caused cancer in children later in life, infertility, and reproductive deformities, in both males and females. Also, immune system problems leading to auto immune diseases. High rates of depression and other psychiatric disorders are related to DES, a synthetic estrogen. Some issues are delayed, not emerging until puberty or later in life.
Since then, many hormone disruptors have been discovered, and not all are man-made. Some occur naturally in nature. In Western Australia, clover had a devastating effect on the sheep industry. Formononetin, a natural chemical found in clover was the culprit. It escapes breakdown in the stomach and mimics the biological effects of estrogen. Since then, scientists have found these chemicals in over 300 plants in more than 16 different plant families. These plant compounds fool estrogen receptors. In essence, plants are producing contraceptives. They can’t get up and run away when threatened, they fight by affecting the fertility of what’s threatening their existence.
There are many kinds of disruption. Synthetic hormones can cause a long-term threat, the body doesn’t expel them. They end up being stored in the body’s fat. The body expels natural hormones. Then there are androgen blockers which message testosterone. Without these signals male development gets derailed. Hormone disruptors scramble all kinds of hormone messages, this happens without them even binding to a receptor. It’s not just estrogen messaging, jamming, and disruption that affects the endocrine system. DDE depletes hormones by accelerating breakdown and elimination. This leads to low hormone levels, which is another disruption.
Of the 51 synthetic chemicals that are hormone disruptors, at least half are persistent products because they resist natural decay that render them harmless. These long-lived chemicals will continue to be a hazard to the unborn for years, decades or in the case of PCBs,centuries. PCBs were on the market for 36 years before serious questions surfaced. Some evidence surfaced in 1936 about the effects on industry workers. It wasn’t until 1976 the US banned the manufacture of PCBs. By then 3.4 billion pounds were produced and much of it was loose in the environment and beyond recall. Humans carry PCBs and other persistent chemicals in their body fat. And they pass this chemical legacy onto their babies. Especially via breast milk. In 6 months of breast feeding a baby in the US gets the maximum recommended lifetime dose of dioxin. The same baby gets 5 times the allowable daily level of PCBs for a 150-pound adult.
And it's not just estrogen and women. In comparison to animals, humans are inefficient breeders and tend to produce barely the number of sperm required for fertilization. This is without the assault of endocrine disrupting chemicals. If long term declines in human sperm count continue, our species faces a troubling prospect.
Plastic is another disruptor. Plastics degrade, some become biologically active. They can come from detergents, food can linings, even clothing. But it's not all about estrogen imposters. Fungicidesinterfere with male hormones, blocking male hormone receptors. Full disclosure is rarely given. Manufacturers frequently withhold information about ingredients in their products using the claim of proprietary information or trade secrets. A principle far more rigorously protected by legal precedent and courts than the public’s right to know. It's anyone's guess how many of the plastic consumer goods contain hormone disrupting chemicals. While DDT use and rates of detection in human tissue has dropped markedly since the 1970s, PCBs are another story. Concentrations in human tissue have remained steady in recent years. Even though most industrialized countries stopped production decades ago. Two thirds of the PCBsproduced are in use in transformers and other electrical equipment. And new chemicals don’t leave tell-tale signs of exposure in human tissue. Most of us carry several hundred persistent chemicals in our body. Several thousand times higher than natural levels of free estrogen, biologically active estrogen.
Our fate is connected to the animals, wrote Rachel Carson in Silent Spring. And we are remarkably like many. The estrogen circulating through the painted turtle is the same estrogen in humans. Animal or human, in Tokyo or the Artic, we all have accumulated a store of persistent chemicals in our body fat. Shared biology, shared fate.
After years of reviewing studies, in 1991 Theo Colburn and Pete Myers brought together 21 key researchers. This is where and when they realized what was happening. As the evidence was laid out, the parallels between animals and humans were remarkable and disturbing.
Are we already suffering from a half century of exposure to endocrine disrupting synthetic chemicals? Unfortunately, problems caused by endocrine disruption must reach crisis proportions before we have a clear sign something serious is happening. But animal studies give us a look at our future. They can alert us to probable disruptions and focus research efforts. They are likely to show up faster in animals due to maturity and reproductive rates being quicker than humans.
Scientists keep finding significant, often permanent effects at surprisingly low doses. It’s not just death and disease. Disrupting hormones and development may be changing who we become, altering our destinies.
The obsession with cancer has caused many to miss the signs. Ignoring important new evidence that doesn’t fit into reigning concepts. The prescriptive message of this book is that we must move beyond the cancer paradigm. Until we do, it will be impossible to grapple with the challenges of hormone disrupting chemicals and the threat they pose to the human prospect.
Is hormone disruption causing the same problems in humans as seen in animals? Poor parenting, failure to thrive, low IQ, increased violence, are just a few. It’s possible there are fates worse than extinction.