Hormone replacement therapy always requires a prescription,
right? You go to the doctor, list your complaints, get an exam and come out with
a piece of paper you deliver to the pharmacist in return for a chunk of change and some
pills or cream, right? Surely you would KNOW if you've engaged in that
How could it be, then that you
could be on hormone replacement and not know it? Here's
Everybody on the planet that's
on hormone replacement therapy passes their urine into one of two places where it
collects. For most people, that means the local sewage system, and for others,
it means an individual septic tank, the leach field of which drains into the
water table and then into rivers and streams.
Then, if someone wants to get
rid of an old prescription hormone, the easiest and most common way has been to simply
flush it down the toilet. But flushing them, whether directly, or with a pass
through the human body first, still leaves them biologically active. How
active? Enough to feminize fish.
What this means is that any hormones that individual person is taking
end up in the water table or sewage treatment plant. Whether that water is then
directly reclaimed and turned into drinking water, or goes into rivers and streams
and then pumped out to turn into drinking water, the result is the same
- hormones in drinking water. If you live in a major metropolitan area, your risk is
much greater than that in small outlying areas, but even outlying areas have been
demonstrated to be contaminated.
Doesn't the sewage
treatment plant clean the water and remove the
In a word, no. In fact, as of this writing, most municipal
water districts don't even to test for these
hormones. A recent study of California drinking water showed that even when additional
techniques - even ones that included reverse osmosis were employed, the results
showed more but not all of these
substances were removed.
What about bottled
A great deal of bottled water
is sourced from ordinary tap water before it is bottled. Some is taken from
aquifers. Regardless, the quality of the water totally depends on its source and
treatment, so for now it is unlikely that the bottled water is any more pure
than from that from the tap. Additionally, if the bottle is plastic and has been
exposed to heat during its storage and transport, it likely contains substances that
are estrogen mimics.
What are the hormones in
Here are the most common ones:
Estrogen. This is the big
kahuna - the hormone currently of greatest concern and impact. Why? Because
estrogen tells cells to 'grow', and those orders reach not only your body cells, but
any viruses, bacteria, yeast, fungi, parasites and, yes, cancer cells, and tell them to
Progesterone, synthetic progestins,
and other progestagens (progesterone-like
These arecurrently included on Calfornia'sProp 65 list, a ballot initiative passed with the intent to
protect citizens and the state's drinking water sources from chemicals known to
cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. The California
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment ("OEHHA") includes all these
substances on that list. Although progesterone is non-water soluble in its natural form,
and therefore unlikely to turn up in drinking water, its chemical forms can show
up. Increasing levels of progesterone in fat cells can feel like being
Testosterone. This is a male hormone
favored by body builders and athletes because it helps build muscle, but now being
prescribed for women to 'improve libido.' Emerging research estimates that an estimated
65% of men over 40 have low testosterone levels in relation to estrogen - in other
words, they are estrogen dominant secondary to exposure to estrogen and toxic endocrine
disruptors. This results in sexual performance problems and a variety of health
threats, including loss of muscle tone and increased body fat. Unfortunately it is often
addressed with a testosterone prescription rather than by lowering the excess
Birth control hormones. These
include both synthetic and bioidentical estrogens and progesterones/ progestins. Again,
the hormones of greatest concern are those containing estrogen; consuming them
via your drinking water throws off the hormone balance of anyone consuming them, man,
woman, child, pet or farm animal.
hormone.Often referred to as "HGH"
for short, recently has become very popular, touted as the new fountain of youth.
Also used by body builders and people who want to lose fat.
Thyroid hormone. This hormone is routinely prescribed to a large number
of people because thyroid problems are increasing.
Androgen blockers, such as Tricolsan (which is
reported to also block thyroid
What are the long term effects of this
At this point the answer to that question is a big 'unknown' in terms
of actual research results. However, common sense tells you that that since these
substances build up in the body, and since they are designed to be
effective in small doses, and since they are retained in fatty tissue, over time the
effects are cumulative.
What can we do?
First of all, we need to accept
that it's not a perfect world, and we need to do the best we possibly can. We can
be informed and pro-active without developing a neurosis about drinking water!
That said, here are some practical
Water filtration: You can use filtration- that will
remove some, but not
all the impurities in water.
How much depends on the system and how often you clean the filter.
Distilled water is the most pure, but many people object to how it tastes, plus
it is devoid of naturally occurring healthy minerals.Second best is a reverse
osmosis filter. Third best is an activated carbon filter that you change
regularly. (As of this writing, activated carbon filters have not been
demonstrated to remove pharmaceuticals by any researchers independent of the
manufacturers.) Perhaps a combination of these methods would be even better;
however this has not yet been demonstrated. Boiling the water
does not remove medications.
Safe disposal of your prescriptions: Do not use the toilet or sink to flush down any unused
medications. Instead take them to the local toxic landfill site where they can be
disposed of properly.
Political action: Lobby your water district to use
reverse osmosis as this cleans up more (but not all) the medications. Don't
accept the argument that drug residue concentrations are extremely diluted. Since these 'extremely diluted
concentrations' have been demonstrated in trace amounts to harm fish, frogs and
other aquatic species, and since in the laboratory they have been shown to impair human
cell function, they are too much. And these laboratory studies don't even take into
account the effects of combinations of these substances. Write letters to the
editor of your local newspaper. Include the subject in your online
communications. Participate in educating others.
To become better informed and
to keep abreast of new developments on this subject, here are some contacts recommended
American: USGS Water Resources,
water.usgs.gov; Sierra Club, www.sierraclub.org/watersentinels; NSF
International, www.nsf.org; Natural
To review the information on
the occurrence of pharmaceuticals in drinking water, the website
www.cleanwater.org lists the
Pharmaceuticals In Drinking
Water, Testimony of David Pringle, Campaign Director, New Jersey
Environmental Federation, On Behalf of New Jersey Environmental Federation and Clean
Water Action Before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Subcommittee
on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality, April 15,
2008 (pdf, 40 Kb)
Pharmaceuticals In Drinking Water, Testimony of Robert
National Deputy Director for Clean Water Action, to the Philadelphia City Council,
April 14, 2008 (pdf, 28 Kb)
Pharmaceuticals In Drinking Water, Testimony of John
Director of Research and Policy for Clean Water Action New England, to oversight
hearing Joint Committee on Public Health Joint Committee on Environment, Natural
Resources & Agriculture in Massachusetts, May 13, 2008 (pdf, 95 Kb)
Navigating Through The Rhetoric About The Clean Water
Restoration Act (pdf, 24kb)
Clean Water Restoration Act of
2007 (H.R. 2421)