Early Puberty in Girls
As I learned from Louise Greenspan, a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher at Kaiser Permanente, puberty is now starting as early as 7 years old in American girls. My daughter is almost 8 years old, so obviously, this caught my attention. Greenspan was recently a guest on the Dr. Oz show discussing the causes behind the rising rates of early puberty. She outlined the 3 major theories for the change:
- Too much fat. Fat turns on the ability to make estrogen.
- Hormones in the food supply. Animals are bred faster and bigger.
- Chemicals in the environment and home.
Greenspan indicated the chemicals of great concern regarding early onset puberty are ones found in plasticizers, flame retardants, pesticides and chemicals in personal care products. All of these chemicals act as endocrine disruptors and are, "unlocking the key to puberty before its time." When chemicals commonly found in plastics break down, they can mimic estrogen, creating estrogenic activity (EA). Her suggestions for keeping our daughters safe (in addition to consuming less sugar, eating foods from farms, not factories, and choosing hormone-free milk + animals) include:
- No plastics of any kind in the microwave, even if the container says microwave-safe. Always use glass.
- Use a stainless steel bottle or a glass bottle for drinking water. Chemicals leach from plastic water bottles, especially when they are heated (sitting in the sun) or cooled.
- Use sunscreen sparingly. Use hats, loose clothing and shade instead of slathering on sunscreen.
- Choose skincare products wisely, taking care to avoid unnecessary petrochemicals found in most conventional products.
There are also subsequent dangers from early on set puberty. Girls who hit puberty sooner are also at greater risk for breast and endometrial cancers and type 2 diabetes. Dr. Frank Biro, director of adolescent medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital adds, "Until we know what the cause is, the best way to slow puberty may be to “start living green”. We agree.