A recent study has just shown that a group of chemicals present in all mac and cheese products does significant damage to hormones--particularly to boys and men. Phthalates, which have already been banned from use in toys because of its significant negative effect on testosterone, have just been found in high levels in cheese products, and most ubiquitously in mac and cheese, reports the New York Times.
The Times explains that phthalates can "disrupt male hormones like testosterone and have been linked to genital birth defects in infant boys and learning and behavior problems in older children. The chemicals migrate into food from packaging and equipment used in manufacturing and may pose special risks to pregnant women and young children."
To be more specific in the ways that these dangerous chemicals can harm boys and men through blocking the production of testosterone, Dr. Heather B. Patisaul, a professor of biological sciences at the Center for Human Health and the Environment at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, explains: “That means there is less testosterone available to the developing male fetus, and since testosterone is absolutely vital to build his reproductive organs, the worry is that you will get malformations and other kinds of problems that translate to health effects later,” Dr. Patisaul said.
Those include “infertility, low sperm counts, altered male reproductive behavior and changes in the area of the brain that are important for sex differences between men and women,” as well as a heightened risk of testicular cancer later on, she said.
“If you asked most scientists about the top 10 or 20 endocrine-disrupting chemicals they worry about, phthalates would be on that list,” Dr. Patisaul said. “We have an enormous amount of data.”
The Times gave suggestions on how to avoid these hormone disrupting chemicals, such as: eating more whole, fresh, and unprocessed foods; choosing low-fat dairy over full-fat, since these chemicals tend to accumulate in fat; storing or buying food in glass, ceramic, or wood containers instead of plastic; and using unscented personal care items, since many fragrances contain phthalates.
This is obviously no small matter, both for pregnant women and for young children. Since the government has yet to ban foods containing phthalates, it is up to consumers to make the best choice for themselves and their families. After learning this information, will you be changing your consumption of mac and cheese? Share this information with loved ones to keep them safe and healthy! Thank you!