Rachel Marie Stone’s review of a new book on breasts for Books and Culture points to some troubling environmental data about BPA, which appears in most plastic products:
The mammary gland is “the most sensitive organ to known harmful industrial chemicals.” Substances like BPA—which appears in the lining of food cans and in most polycarbonate (#7) plastics—activate the estrogen receptors on breast cells, causing all kinds of problems, including increased rates of breast cancer and a lowering of the age of puberty. Fifty percent of girls in the U.S. now have breasts—or the beginnings thereof—by age ten, a phenomenon that’s pretty unusual in the long view of human history and that’s socially problematic: our daughters are reaching physical puberty well before they reach emotional and cognitive maturity.
(Boys and men are not off the hook either; phthalates and BPA function not only as estrogen-copycats but as anti-androgens, and have been linked to smaller penises, lower sperm counts, and other physical markers of feminization in boys. Is Mark Driscoll about to get on the BPA-banning bandwagon? We can only hope.)
It’s enough to make one think there’s might not be such a great future in plastics after all.