Toxicology

Time Magazine Promotes Superstitious Chemophobia

Toxicologists liken the endocrine disruption hypothesis to homeopathy.

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SnakeOil
Snake Oil

When environmental activists could no longer maintain with a straight face that exposure to trace amounts of synthetic chemicals is a significant cause for cancer in people, the endocrine disruption hypothesis was ginned up. The idea is that chemicals that mimic estrogen are causing epidemics of deformed penises, lower sperm counts, premature development of breasts in girls, shorter anogenital distances in men, diabetes, ADHD, and reduced cognitive function. Today, Time magazine is reporting a correlational study that claims to have sufficiently tortured the data, ah, quantified the economic harm that these estrogen-fueled epidemics is causing.

The researchers had previously calculated the losses from endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have imposed on hapless Europeans at annual cost of €163 billion (1.28 percent of EU Gross Domestic Product). "We conclude that endocrine disrupting chemical exposures in the EU are likely to contribute substantially to disease and dysfunction across the life course with costs in the hundreds of billions of Euros per year," they report. "These estimates represent only those endocrine disrupting chemicals with the highest probability of causation; a broader analysis would have produced greater estimates of burden of disease and costs."

These intrepid researchers have now turned their attention to the United States. Of course, they find, that the situation is even worse here than across the pond. From the study:

The disease costs of EDCs were much higher in the USA than in Europe ($340 billion [2·33% of GDP] vs $217 billion [1·28%]). The difference was driven mainly by intelligence quotient (IQ) points loss and intellectual disability due to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (11 million IQ points lost and 43?000 cases costing $266 billion in the USA vs 873?000 IQ points lost and 3290 cases costing $12·6 billion in the European Union).

Time does acknowledge that the results are correlational (and if you read through the earlier European study you will find that torturing the data will in fact make them confess to anything). However, Time continues, "But while research showing the connection between many chemicals and endocrine disruption remains correlational, many scientists say the burden should still rest on manufacturers to prove a substance is safe before selling it to the public." Pure precautionary principle nonsense.

In any case, a group of real toxicologists in their scathing article, "Endocrine Disruption: Fact or Urban Legend?," have likened endocrine disruption research to homeopathy. Why? Because many endocrine disruption researchers claim that lower doses of EDCs cause more harm than higher doses. No really. The toxicologists make fun of this "interesting hypothesis" by suggesting if it were true then that would mean eating Chinese meal containing low-doses of estrogenic compounds found in soybeans would be far more dangerous than taking a daily birth control pill.

As I report in The End of Doom, the toxicologists note that during the past twenty years hundreds of millions of euros and dollars of taxpayer money have been spent on endocrine disruptor research with essentially no results. They bluntly suggest that all this funding has likely produced "a vested interest of scientists in the endocrine disruption field to keep the endocrine disruption hypothesis on the agenda in order to stay in business." Decades of research and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding have resulted in the publication of more than 4,000 diff erent articles. "Taking into account the large resources spent on this topic, one should expect that, in the meantime, some endocrine disruptors that cause actual human injury or disease should have been identified," the researchers argue. "However, this is not the case. To date, with the exception of natural or synthetic hormones, not a single, man- made chemical endocrine disruptor has been identified that poses an identifiable, measurable risk to human health." They damningly add, "Certainly, there has been much media hype about imaginary health risks from bisphenol A, parabens, or phthalates. However, no actual evidence of adverse human health effects from these substances has ever been established. To the contrary, there is increasing evidence that their health risks are absent or negligible—or imaginary."

They summarize the ideology driving the endocrine disruptor scare: "Perhaps the entire issue of purported health risks of chemical EDs is just another version of the trivial dichotomy natural is good versus man-made is bad." Well, yes.

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  1. Time had the wisdom and integrity to name me “Man of the Year” back in 2006. I will always be a supporter after that.

    1. I thought it was Giant Douches, not Turd Sandwiches.

    2. Hey, me too Derp!

      What are the odd’s?!

  2. Yes. I have been having this argument with lots of people. The best study I saw was assigning 20 people to eat diets that had no BPA packaging for 20 days and then eating at least x amount of BPA packaged food for 20 days OR vice versa, and then studied BPA excretions in urine. BPA levels in the urine rise a few days (I think it was two) after starting the BPA diet and fall back to pre-diet measurements in both cases in the same amount of time. This is exactly what you would see if your body did absolutely nothing with a chemical except filter it and move on. There’s no storage mechanism, and no real proof that they actually displace hormones at receptor sites.

    1. The funny thing is, there is *decades* of androgen science demonstrating exactly how much of what kind of chemicals disrupt these metabolic pathways, how long they do so, and to what effect. Virtually all of these compounds and the reasonable doses fall nowhere near the weakest of the androgens or their derivatives.

      We can induce breast growth prematurely and relatively selectively in underage girls (and boys). The compounds in question and at the doses used don’t even come close to approaching efficacy even if you simply add up cumulative doses over the course of a lifetime. It’s like these people never lived through the mysticism of homeopathy.

      1. Androgen receptors are much less promiscuous than estrogen receptors, fwiw. You can get significant bioresponse at very low doses with actual estrogen mimics (I discount BPA because of its low binding affinity).

    2. A substance doesn’t have to bioaccumulate in order to be dangerous to humans. The body may well filter out harmful chemicals and damage is still done. Your argument doesn’t really work.

      As is usual, though, the EU claims some thing is bad and moves to regulate it heavily because statists gonna state. The EU’s like a big conglomerate of Californias of different flavors and most of them paranoid about harmless chemicals because they can’t pronounce their names. They ignore all the numerous studies that don’t produce the results they want and run around like chicken little when they manage to manufacture the one that does.

      I have little faith in the FDA (more in the CDC though) but I’d accept its recommendations for health before anything the EU can put forth.

  3. They bluntly suggest that all this funding has likely produced “a vested interest of scientists in the endocrine disruption field to keep the endocrine disruption hypothesis on the agenda in order to stay in business.”

    LOL reminds me of the global warming theory. So I guess the lefties will be along soon to declare that endocrine disruption is “settled science”.

    1. Depends on what sort of money and political power they can squeeze out of it.

  4. The world has wasted so much money. It is incredibly depressing to think about.

    1. I prefer them wasting money in the lab discovering if the globe is actually warming or if trace-level contamination really does cause endocrine disruption rather than jet-setting around the globe collecting money to implement the next 5-yr. plan or Great Leap Forward.

    2. Considering the money doesn’t cease to exist, simply circulate through economies, you might find some comfort in knowing that eventually, that money was used for a worthwhile cause, like prostitution or what have you.

  5. RE: Time Magazine Promotes Superstitious Chemophobia

    Hey, never waste a crisis.
    But don’t worry.
    All will be well if all us little people give The State 100% of our paychecks to find a cure for cancer.
    Why, just look how The State has found cures for AIDS, MS, MD, diabetes, etc.
    That should tell you all you need to know about solving the mysteries of diseases.

  6. No. Muh endochrones!

  7. I gotta quit eatin tofu.

  8. The researchers had previously calculated the losses from endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have imposed on hapless Europeans at annual cost of ?163 billion[…]

    Oh, that reminds me. There’s another set of ‘researchers’ whose extraordinary claims are also accompanied by cost analysis of the same kind along with policy recommendations, making so much noise that governments and politicians are also taking them seriously when they should know better.

    I’m talking about the Angry Volcano God activists better known as “Climatey Changey” followers.

  9. The idea is that chemicals that mimic estrogen are causing epidemics of deformed penises

    *looks in pants*

    Define “deformed”.

    1. If you have to ask, Paul…

    2. Define “deformed”.

      Presence of foreskin.

      *runs away*

    3. I thought this was covered in that great cinema classic “Porky’s”.

  10. The idea is that chemicals that mimic estrogen are causing epidemics of deformed penises, lower sperm counts,… …shorter anogenital distances in men, diabetes, ADHD, and reduced cognitive function.

    If, “…reduced cognitive function…,” is to mean that, “…an insatiable, uncontrollable, and idiopathic innate urge to create Lovecraftian Tales of Political Viscerae…”, then finally, medical science has solved a conundrum that has been unanswered for far too long.

    We now have the definitive etiology of how and why SugarFree is what he is. Frankly, I find this highly plausible and medically incontrovertible rationale rather anticlimactic. I guess it’s another case of Reality is Unrealistic trope

    Take THAT, Ronal’d Bejlij!

  11. “…shorter anogenital anocranial distances in men reporters…”

  12. “They bluntly suggest that all this funding has likely produced “a vested interest of scientists in the endocrine disruption field to keep the endocrine disruption hypothesis on the agenda in order to stay in business.”

    Money shot.

    This is happening in virtually every scientific area Government has jammed it’s nose into, as Ron keeps pointing out with the reproducibility problem in scientific journals these days.

    ‘Science’ is no longer science, it’s more like ‘public policy & social sciences’. You get more of what you subsidize; seems like an iron law to me.

  13. I’m reading the old Snake Oil advert, and the only conclusion I can come up with is quack medicine was sure a lot cheaper before the government got involved.

  14. In any case, a group of real toxicologists in their scathing article, “Endocrine Disruption: Fact or Urban Legend?,” have likened endocrine disruption research to homeopathy. Why?

    As soon as I saw that title, I knew Borgert was in there. IMO and IME, a fabulously corrupt researcher, more of a gun-for-hire (or as we euphemistically call it, “product defense specialist”). Regardless of what you believe about the importance of EDCs, as soon as you see that name, start sniffing for the rats. What you have there is likely garbage.

  15. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

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