You buy organic milk and eat Ben & Jerry's ice cream because it's free of hormones, which can throw your body out of whack in mysterious ways. But what are you rubbing into your scalp? Many shampoos and conditioners--especially those marketed to smooth the hair of black women--are packed with synthetic hormones, which your body easily sucks in through the skin. How about organic brands instead? In test tubes, even lavender oil mimics estrogen.
A debate is raging about why nearly half of black girls and 15 percent of white girls seem to be starting puberty by age 8. (I couldn't find any way around the P word, yech.) Some toddler girls and boys even develop breasts, suffering what the NYT highlights as "preschool puberty." Could it be mom's shampoo--Super Gro being so aptly named? Or plastics, with hormone-disrupting phthalates rubbing into our mucous membranes through pacifiers and sex toys? What about the omnipresent industrial chemicals that monkey with our endocrine systems and so much more? It's been seven years since the government was supposed to take a hard look at how such ingredients mess with the environment and our bodies.
Scientists don't even know enough about how hormones work to endorse them after menopause, or to warn women about a breast cancer link. But the FDA lets drugstore bodycare products contain just as many artifical female hormones as grandmother might swallow in her daily change-of-life horse pills.
The estrogen compounds in the urine of millions get flushed into our groundwater, streams and oceans, probably rendering frogs and other delicate creatures infertile. Yet gynecologists regularly push birth control pills on tweens. Women even take the pill year-round so they'll never have to have a period; a new drug will make that even easier. What to do? Stuntmother puts the lack of an answer better than I can:
Problem is, there's something worrying every time I swing my head around. Water has lead. Shampoo has lavender. Food has growth hormones or has been genetically modified. Our vegetables are sprayed. Our playgrounds have glass in the grass and needles on the swings. Our cars are spewing out carcinogens, as are our factories and air conditioners. Our crackers have preservatives and polyunsaturated grease. Fish is riddled with mercury. George Bush is president. Perverts lurk on the internet and reality television is weird. North Korea has nuclear bombs and the Gulf Stream is slowing. Oil is over sixty dollars a barrel and clothing is sweat-shopped. Children are dying in mines and orphanages and pressure treated wood has arsenic. New paint and carpets off-gas and old carpets have dust mites and old paint has lead. People still think that Paris Hilton is pretty and the authorities (ha!) can't decide whether 10,000 or 600,000 Iraqis have died since we charged into Iraq.
There are dangers everywhere and a thousand more I do not know or that have not yet been discovered. I cannot be a one woman shield against all that is poisoning, threatening, lurking and destroying my children. I want to be -- but I can't. So where is the line?