I talk about childhood health frequently in this space (as I’m sure you’ve noticed).
Not because kids are avid readers of mine. (I’m pretty sure they’re not.) But because we all have families. And because, even though the kids in our lives don’t actually subscribe to this e-letter, you can still make a profound impact on their health by reading it.
The more we all know about obesity, autism, and other alarming trends in childhood health, the better equipped are to reverse them. And the trend I want to discuss today is definitely cause for concern.
There has been a startling rise in the rate of girls entering puberty at record-setting ages here in the United States. We’re talking notably younger than they ever have in the past–the cause of which the conventional medical community has had a great deal of trouble nailing down.
Well… of course they have. Because as usual, they don’t want to look at the obvious.
That’s why I was pleased to see the conclusion of this latest study. Not because the contents aren’t unsettling. But because maybe, finally, researchers have at least hit the tip of the iceberg here.
This study appeared in the journal Pediatrics. And it points to higher body mass index (BMI) as a smoking gun behind early breast development in Caucasian girls.
Now, this might not sound like a problem with serious health consequences. But it is. For one thing, girls who hit puberty earlier also struggle more with depression and low self-esteem–leading to greater risk of self-destructive behaviors like drug abuse.
But that’s not all. These girls also face lethal risks later in life, as early puberty affects rates of ovarian and breast cancer.
These researchers enrolled more than 1,200 girls between six and eight years old. Of this group, 39 percent of African American girls had BMIs in the 85th percentile or above. Among Hispanic girls, this number shot to 44 percent, while among white and Asian girls, this number came in at 26 and 12 percent, respectively.
What are we doing to our children? These obesity rates are truly staggering for what was ultimately a random sampling.
Median age of breast development spanned from 8.8 years to 9.7 years among these racial demographics. And the likelihood of earlier development rose as BMIs pushed past the 50th percentile mark. A finding that really shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Overweight girls are, for the most part, eating more food. Not just more food, but lower quality food, too. Which means that they’re also ingesting more phytoestrogens–those tiny-yet-significant amounts of estrogen that come from the growth hormones in every non-organic, factory-farmed animal you consume. And every non-organic vegetable, for that matter–as well as every GMO crop (all wheat, most soy and corn, etc.).
I think you get my point about food–I’m always climbing up on that soapbox. But it’s important to remember that these chemicals are present in just about every cleaning fluid, carpet, and fabric in your home. They’re literally everywhere.
Couple these environmental estrogens with skyrocketing obesity rates–bearing in mind that fat tends to store any excess estrogen–and is it any wonder we’re seeing training bras in elementary school?
In the words of the lead author of this study herself:
“Extensive interacting variables are known to be associated with earlier development in addition to weight and genetics: certain intrauterine conditions and exposures, preschool high-meat diets, dairy products, low fiber intake, isoflavones, high-stress families, absent fathers, certain endocrine disruptors, the microbiome as it influences weight, epigenetics, light exposure, hormone-laced hair products, insulin resistance, activity level, geographical location, and others.”
Well, well, well. How about that?
Over here in the land of holistic medicine, we’ve been discussing the influence of every last one of these very serious contributing factors for what feels like forever. All while the mainstream buried their heads deeper into the sand.
It’s about time these clowns came up for some air.
“Onset of Breast Development in a Longitudinal Cohort.” Pediatrics. Published online November 4, 2013.
Early Onset of Puberty in Girls Linked to Obesity. Medscape. Nov 04, 2013.