I’ve recently read an interesting article about “feminising fish”. It’s a UK study on roach stocks from ten rivers. The study found that “nearly half of male fish had eggs in their testes or female reproductive ducts. A tenth were sterile and another quarter had damaged sperm.” It’s an alarming thing to discover that about half of the male fish in rivers the UK are being feminised or changing sex. Britain actually has a £30bn bill to clean up rivers, streams and drinking water supplies.
As it turns out, there are such things called ‘gender-bending’ chemicals . These chemicals mimic the female hormone, oestrogen. They are said to disrupt the development of wildlife, and in this case, have been linked to the fluctuations in fish population.
Chemicals in our water supply
We all know that our seas and rivers are very polluted. And since a third of our drinking water comes from rivers, there is a real danger that chemical residues could make their way into our drinking water supply.
Hormones in Wee
Scientists are trying to crack the puzzle and have taken a closer look at The Pill and those who are taking HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) to alleviate symptoms of menopause. They have found that “ethanol oestradiol - a chemical used in the Pill which is between 50 to 100 times more powerful than natural oestrogens - is responsible for feminising fish.” Women on the pill or on HRT pass the hormones through their urine and into sewage works, thus causing gender bending in male fish.
Natural oestrogen is always present in nature but this synthetic and more potent form has apparently made its way into rivers and streams and eventually our tap water. Although studies are inconclusive as to whether the levels of ethanol oestradiol in tap water can cause health problems for men who drink water from the tap, there is a genuine concern that the minute amounts could affect fertility in both men and women.
Another culprit could be the gender-bending chemicals found in plastics, particularly BPAs (Bisphenol A) which also mimics the female sex hormone, oestrogen. BPA has endocrine disrupting properties that, not only affect males through reduction of sperm count, but pose dangers for females as well by affecting fertility.
Minute amounts or not, the presence of ethanol oestradiol in tap water should cause you to re-evaluate what you put into your body. Sure, our modern water plants are doing a great job at making our tap water potable, but there is a simpler and more convenient way to make sure that the water from the tap is safe to drink. Filter your tap water! You can read more about the many benefits of filtering your tap water here: Why You Need to Drink Filtered Water.