(NaturalNews) If you are a man, the odds are stacked against you. Today's world is a literal toxic minefield of feminizing chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) and fluoride that overload men's systems with estrogen, potentially leading to low testosterone. And a new study has revealed that men's exposure to such chemicals while in the womb can permanently alter their baseline testosterone levels as adults, leading to a lifetime of hormone-induced health problems.
A team of scientists from the Medical Research Council Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland made the discovery after undertaking an investigation into why some men have much higher testosterone levels than other men, even when living relatively similar lifestyles as adults. Recognizing that high testosterone is essential for men's physical and mental health, the researchers decided to take a closer look at how this hormone is affected during pregnancy.
They looked specifically at Leydig cells, which live in men's testes and begin generating the testosterone hormone at puberty. The only way these cells are able to function properly is if the stem cells from which they are derived -- these stem cells are imparted by the mother during pregnancy -- are exposed to the proper amounts of testosterone in her womb.
Men's Leydig cells don't work as well when mother is exposed to too much estrogen
As it turns out, men whose mothers do not have proper testosterone levels during pregnancy tend to inherit lower-functioning Leydig cells later, resulting in reduced production of this necessary hormone throughout their lives. Consequently, many of these men end up suffering from perpetual hormonal imbalance, which makes them more prone to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even mental illness.
"There is increasing evidence that a mother's diet, lifestyle and exposure to drugs and chemicals can have a significant impact on testosterone levels in the womb," stated Professor Richard Sharpe, one of the study's lead authors. "We need a better grasp of these factors so that we can give reliable advice to pregnant women to protect the health of her unborn child."
Avoid soy, BPA, thermal paper receipts and conventional meat and dairy to reduce estrogen risk
The study is the first of its kind to delineate a connection between fetal exposure to inadequate testosterone and decreased testosterone levels during adulthood. Though discouraging in its findings, the paper draws attention to the need for women to have their hormone levels checked before and throughout their pregnancies, and to pay close attention to what they eat and touch.
Soy, for instance, is loaded with toxic phytoestrogens that science has linked to causing endocrine disruption. Pregnant women who consume soy milk and other soy-based products are exposing their unborn children to these same hormone-mimicking chemicals, which are stacked on top of the already high levels of estrogen naturally produced during pregnancy.
Touching thermal paper receipts and drinking out of plastic bottles is another source of estrogenic chemicals that can change a woman's hormone levels, and thus her unborn child's hormone levels. Virtually any estrogenic substance a pregnant woman is exposed to during pregnancy has the potential to alter the genetic blueprint of her unborn child, especially when that child is a boy.
"These studies highlight how a key component of male reproductive development can fundamentally reprogram adult hormone production (through an epigenetic change), which might affect lifetime disease risk," wrote the researchers.