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    Female Hormones Linked To Obesity Epidemic In Men
    By News Staff | June 14th 2014 02:00 PM | 2 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    An imbalance of female sex hormones caused by vegetarian foods like soy may be contributing to high levels of male obesity, according to a recent paper.


    Like all epidemiological studies that are implying correlation and causation, some skepticism is warranted.

    The authors note that products having higher levels of the female sex hormone estrogen are more often found in affluent societies, so they compared obesity rates among men and women from around the world with measures such as Gross Domestic Product to determine the impact of affluence on obesity. They found that while it was normal for women in the developing world to have significantly greater levels of obesity than men, the developed world offers quite a different picture. 

    "Hormonally driven weight gain occurs more significantly in females than in males, and this is very clear when we look at the rates of obesity in the developing world," says University of Adelaide medical student James Grantham. "However, in the Western world, such as in the United States, Europe and Australia, the rates of obesity between men and women are much closer. In some Western nations, male obesity is greater than female obesity.

    "While poor diet is no doubt to blame, we believe there is more to it than simply a high caloric intake."




    The average sum of skin-folds across age for all four groups based on sex and urban-rural divide. 
    doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099776

    Co-author Professor Maciej Henneberg, an anthropologist, says, "Exposure to estrogen is known to cause weight gain, primarily through thyroid inhibition and modulation of the hypothalamus. Soy products contain xenoestrogens, and we are concerned that in societies with a high dietary saturation of soy, such as the United States, this could be working to 'feminize' the males. This would allow men in those communities to artificially imitate the female pattern of weight gain.

    "Another well-established source of xenoestrogen is polyvinyl chloride, known as PVC. This product is in prominent use in most wealthy countries, from plastic medical devices to piping for our water supplies."

    Professor Henneberg then oddly implies that micro-evolutionary changes may be occurring within Western societies that could also be leading to changes in testosterone and estrogen in men. "This would certainly explain the various concerns about sperm count reductions among men in developed nations." he says.


    Citation: Grantham JP, Henneberg M (2014) The Estrogen Hypothesis of Obesity. PLoS ONE 9(6): e99776. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099776

    Is there anything to there claim that environmental factors are leading to a "feminization" of men in the Western world? Let us know in the comments.


    Comments

    John Hasenkam




     2007 Jan-Feb;59(1):73-81.

    [Endocrine disruptor compounds and their role in the developmental programming of the reproductive axis].

    [Article in Spanish]
    Guzmán C1Zambrano E.



    Abstract

    Different perturbations during fetal and postnatal development unleash endocrine adaptations that permanently alter metabolism, increasing the susceptibility to develop later disease, process known as "developmental programming." Endocrine disruptor compounds (EDC) are widely spread in the environment and display estrogenic, anti-estrogenic or anti-androgenic activity; they are lipophilic and stored for long periods in the adipose tissue. Maternal exposure to EDC during pregnancy and lactation produces the exposure of the fetus and neonate through placenta and breast milk. Epidemiological and experimental studies have demonstrated reproductive alterations as a consequence of intrauterine and/or neonatal exposure to EDC. Diethystilbestrol (DES) is the best documented compound, this synthetic estrogen was administered to pregnant women in the 1950s and 1960s to prevent miscarriage. It was implicated in urogenital abnormalities in children exposed in utero and was withdrawn from the market. The "DES daughters" are women with high incidence of vaginal hypoplasia, spontaneous abortion, premature delivery, uterine malformation, menstrual abnormalities and low fertility. The "DES sons" show testicular dysgenesis syndrome, which is characterized by hypospadias, cryptorchidism and low semen quality. This entity is also associated wtih fetal exposure to anti-androgens as flutamide. The effects on the reproductive axis depend on the stage of development and the window of exposure, as well as the dose and the compound. The wide distribution of EDC into the environment affects both human health and ecosystems in general, the study of their mechanisms of action is extremely important currently.



    PMID:
     
    17569302
     
    [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

     2006 Jun;3(2):180-4.

    Are endocrine disrupting compounds a health risk in drinking water?

    Falconer IR.



    Abstract

    There has been a great deal of international discussion on the nature and relevance of endocrine disrupting compounds in the environment. Changes in reproductive organs of fish and mollusks have been demonstrated in rivers downstream of sewage discharges in Europe and in North America, which have been attributed to estrogeniccompounds in the effluent. The anatomical and physiological changes in the fauna are illustrated by feminization ofmale gonads. The compounds of greatest hormonal activity in sewage effluent are the natural estrogens 17Beta-estradiol, estrone, estriol and the synthetic estrogen ethinylestradiol. Androgens are also widely present in wastewaters. Investigations of anthropogenic chemical contaminants in freshwaters and wastewaters have shown a wide variety of organic compounds, many of which have low levels of estrogenic activity. In many highly populated countries the drinking water is sourced from the same rivers and lakes that are the recipients of sewage and industrial discharge. The River Thames which flows through London, England, has overall passed through drinking water and sewage discharge 5 times from source to mouth of the river. Under these types of circumstance, any accumulation of endocrine disrupting compounds from sewage or industry potentially affects the quality of drinking water. Neither basic wastewater treatment nor basic drinking water treatment will eliminate the estrogens, androgens or detergent breakdown products from water, due to the chemical stability of the structures. Hence a potential risk to health exists; however present data indicate that estrogenic contamination of drinking water is very unlikely to result in physiologically detectable effects in consumers. Pesticide, detergent and industrial contamination remain issues of concern. As a result of this concern, increased attention is being given to enhanced wastewater treatment in locations where the effluent is directly or indirectly in use for drinking water. In some places at which heavy anthropogenic contamination of drinking water sources occurs, advanced drinking water treatment is increasingly being implemented. This treatment employs particle removal, ozone oxidation of organic material and activated charcoal adsorption of the oxidation products. Such processes will remove industrial organic chemicals, pesticides, detergents, pharmaceutical products and hormones. Populations for which only basic wastewater and drinking water treatment are available remain vulnerable.



    PMID:
     
    16823090
     
    [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] 
    PMCID:
     
    PMC3807508
     
    Free PMC Article 2006 Jun;3(2):180-4.

    Are endocrine disrupting compounds a health risk in drinking water?

    Falconer IR.



    Abstract

    There has been a great deal of international discussion on the nature and relevance of endocrine disrupting compounds in the environment. Changes in reproductive organs of fish and mollusks have been demonstrated in rivers downstream of sewage discharges in Europe and in North America, which have been attributed to estrogeniccompounds in the effluent. The anatomical and physiological changes in the fauna are illustrated by feminization ofmale gonads. The compounds of greatest hormonal activity in sewage effluent are the natural estrogens 17Beta-estradiol, estrone, estriol and the synthetic estrogen ethinylestradiol. Androgens are also widely present in wastewaters. Investigations of anthropogenic chemical contaminants in freshwaters and wastewaters have shown a wide variety of organic compounds, many of which have low levels of estrogenic activity. In many highly populated countries the drinking water is sourced from the same rivers and lakes that are the recipients of sewage and industrial discharge. The River Thames which flows through London, England, has overall passed through drinking water and sewage discharge 5 times from source to mouth of the river. Under these types of circumstance, any accumulation of endocrine disrupting compounds from sewage or industry potentially affects the quality of drinking water. Neither basic wastewater treatment nor basic drinking water treatment will eliminate the estrogens, androgens or detergent breakdown products from water, due to the chemical stability of the structures. Hence a potential risk to health exists; however present data indicate that estrogenic contamination of drinking water is very unlikely to result in physiologically detectable effects in consumers. Pesticide, detergent and industrial contamination remain issues of concern. As a result of this concern, increased attention is being given to enhanced wastewater treatment in locations where the effluent is directly or indirectly in use for drinking water. In some places at which heavy anthropogenic contamination of drinking water sources occurs, advanced drinking water treatment is increasingly being implemented. This treatment employs particle removal, ozone oxidation of organic material and activated charcoal adsorption of the oxidation products. Such processes will remove industrial organic chemicals, pesticides, detergents, pharmaceutical products and hormones. Populations for which only basic wastewater and drinking water treatment are available remain vulnerable.



    PMID:
     
    16823090
     
    [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] 
    PMCID:
     
    PMC3807508
     
    Free PMC Article






    That soy products might be causing obesity sounds implausible to me. China, Japan and other Asian countries have been making and using soy sauce for more than 1000 years, without (as far as I know) ever making anyone fat.