Over the years of practicing medicine, I have noticed that some diseases which I rarely saw as a resident I now see quite often. For example, I had a brother and sister come in to see me a while ago. They were in their 20’s. The male patient complained of no energy and weight gain. The female complained of fatigue, weight gain and no periods. The labs were unremarkable except for the fact that the male had no (and I mean ZERO) testosterone; His sister had no estrogen. I sent them to a specialist where they had no real answers. We then sent them to the University Medical College for a full work up. But, they had no answer. This lack of an answer left me perplexed. I was talking to a biochemist friend who suggested that I test the family for Phthalates.
What is a phthalate? Phthalates are plastic. I had heard of heavy metals causing problems in the body but plastic was new to me. Well sure enough, both siblings came back with very high levels of phthalates. This means that the reason they have no testosterone or estrogen is because the body looks at the phthalates as estrogen and/or testosterone. So, because each sibling had high levels of plastic their bodies saw no reason to make testosterone or estrogen.
So where would they get plastic or phthalates from? Both patients ate healthy and I would agree that they drank plenty of water; in fact, they always carried their water bottles with them. Than it hits me – the plastic came from their water bottles. The bottles, once filled, can be left in the sun or if they are heated up the plastic from the bottle can leach into the water.
This past week I saw a study on 10 popular branches of bottled water – ones that I even drink! The study showed even when the bottle is not heated the water is loaded with phthalates from the manufacturing process. Fresh, clear water is a top priority, but we need it without the plastic. This may be one of the reasons why I am seeing more and more patients ranging ages 20 to 30 with low testosterone or hormone problems. The water that had the least plastic problem – you guessed it – tap water!