Plastics pervade our lives. From water bottles, toys, food containers, cars, to our cars and clothing, plastic seems to be in everything and just about everywhere! We know that plastic particles pollute the ocean, but they also impact our individual health, as well.
Today, Dr. Anthony Jay from the Mayo Clinic explains the hormone-disrupting effects of plastic on the human body. He talks about its sources–leaching into our food from packaging, for example–and how it can lead to apathy, depression, hormonal dysfunction, and more. He offers ideas for how to minimize our exposure to it and how to detoxify from its buildup in the body.
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Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda
From water bottles and pre-packaged foods to cars and clothing, plastics pervade our lives. Plastics are so prevalent that they pollute the oceans, but do they pollute our bodies as well? This is Episode 260. Our guest is Dr. Anthony Jay. Anthony has a PhD in Biochemistry from the Boston University School of Medicine, where he studied fats, hormones and cholesterol. He works at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, researching stem cells, epigenetics, and infrared light. Anthony speaks to us about the hormone-disrupting effects of plastic on the human body. He explains where it comes from, like leaching into our fruits and vegetables and meat from packaging, for example, and how plastic toxicity can lead to early puberty and even clinical depression in our children. He also offers ideas for how to avoid plastic in our lives and how to detoxify from all of its buildup in the body.
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Visit Anthony’s website: AJConsultingCompany.com
Check out our sponsors: Ancestral Supplements and North Star Bison
Register for our conference at WiseTraditions.org
Welcome to the show, Anthony.
Thanks for having me.
I loved your book about the toxins in our environment that we need to get away from. You were telling me that you have someone that reached out to you who’s had some wonderful results by avoiding some estrogenic chemicals in their own life. Can you tell us that story?
Plastic chemicals are really problematic for our health.
I got an email from a guy named Mark over in Australia, and I’m going to be on his podcast. He’s fairly open about what he says. I don’t feel like it’s confidential. He said he’s a month into an estrogenic-free life. This is quoting him, “I can feel the difference. Body fat is dropping off faster. I feel more vigorous and pumped for life. My strength in the gym and drive to lift are higher. I wish I had my blood work done before I started because I’m sure it would be a testimonial to your silver plan. I thought I was eliminating most of the estrogen mimics. I wasn’t even close. Finally, I’m sweating every morning to eliminate the “glitter” and other top ten list estrogenic that I come into contact with. It’s definitely making a huge impact on DHEA and testosterone levels. I’ve read your book four times now and I’m super pumped to chat with you tomorrow.”
In my book, glitter is literally made from plastic. I reference these plastic chemicals and how difficult they are to get rid of from our lives. Can you imagine if you’ve got glitter on your body or something? My kids play with glitter. He’s referencing how difficult it is to get that glitter off your skin, clothes, and house. It’s not as difficult as most people think. You have to take small steps initially. When you purchase future items, make sure to get glass, stainless steel, or things that aren’t plastic whenever you can.
I saw this frontline plastic wars and it was talking about how hard it is to get rid of plastic. We’ve been told we can recycle it, but it ends up in other countries. It’s not easy to dispose of, but it’s not only bad for the environment. You’re saying it’s bad for our bodies as well.
That’s the thing that they didn’t address in that documentary. They did a great job of telling us how prevalent it is and how poorly we’re dealing with plastics. We think we’re recycling them, but we’re not in most cases, but again, it’s leaching into our oceans and drinking water. It’s degrading. These plastic chemicals are real problematic for our health.
What did they do to us, Anthony?
They basically act like estrogen in our body. That leads to a whole host of issues starting with infertility. It’s tricking our systems and altering our sex hormones. For example, children with higher BPA urine levels of BPA have more depression. There are a lot of things like that. It alters your brain. With men, you see decreased motivation and more apathy when they’re exposed to some of these estrogen chemicals. Their testosterone goes down. Women as well. I’ve talked to a lot of women that have low testosterone issues. The lab reference range will be 5 to 20 or something for testosterone for women, but some other lab companies they’ll say 0 to 20 as if you have 0 testosterone and that’s okay, which is absurd.
It’s like they’re moving the goalpost. Is that what I hear you saying?
Exactly. They’ve done it with vitamin D and testosterone. They’re trying to change the normal age range for puberty because puberty is getting younger. Rather than saying that’s an issue, they’re trying to say, “Let’s lower the normal range because we’re seeing it commonly,” which is insane. It’s not addressing the problem.
It’s not addressing the problem at all. What’s weird to me is that a lot of our food comes wrapped in plastic.
There’s leaching. There’s no question. A lot of the vegans talk about this because of course they like to point out that chicken and beef have a lot of phthalates. It’s because they’re wrapping these foods in plastics. You don’t have phthalates if you’re not wrapping it in plastic. I have four kids so I do a whole cow. I try and find a farmer that’s willing to basically have it butchered and then wrapped in parchment paper, not plastic-wrapped like freezer paper.
That’s how they used to do it.
You can still find people that do that as a normal thing, but it’s harder to find. If you request it, it’s no big deal. That’s something you can do.
I get cheese from a farm, for example, and it comes shrink-wrapped. Are you saying that that plastic leaks into the cheese?
A little bit, certainly on the outside. The thing about the solids, I’m not as concerned about. I’m much more concerned about the liquids that are in plastics. Those are a bigger priority to avoid. Even more so, the liquids that are hot. There’s no question people need to minimize that. Once in a while, it’s okay, but when it’s constant, these daily exposures to these toxins, there are no two ways about it. When people are literally drinking out of plastics every day, they’re heating their food in plastics, they’ve got dishes that are plastic, and utensils sometimes in plastic, there’s so much leaching. You’re spiking your blood levels. That’s a major problem.
How did you first find out about this, Anthony?
I basically did my PhD on Cholesterol and Hormones. As I was researching testosterone, I started to realize there are these artificial estrogen chemicals. Nobody talks about them because sometimes you find researchers who research one or another. They only research BPA, phthalates, or a different artificial estrogen like the ones found in sunscreen chemicals. Nobody is putting it together as a full story and seeing that they’re all connected. They all act like estrogen. I tried to put that together as an entire story in my book because I wanted to avoid them. I didn’t want to have these exposures for my own kids and myself. That’s what inspired it.
Help us understand what direction all of these hormone disruptors are coming at us from.
They’ve done studies on children’s daycare facilities in California. As you can imagine, there are plastic slides, plastic cushions on the floor, and everything. All the toys are plastic. They find that not just the plastic touching the plastic but the air that the kids are breathing in. Is it going above the government’s own cancer limits? What’s crazy about that is the government’s cancer limits are quite high. They’re not conservative at all. You should avoid plastic chemicals way below what the government thinks you should avoid because oftentimes the health issues from these toxins take decades or at least years to see the big impact. Most of the scientific studies are based around a few weeks of testing.
At some point, you’re going to have some plastic exposures. Look around your environment. Figure out where your major plastic exposures are and try and slowly eliminate them over time.
They don’t see that much issue from them. They allow these high levels. If you’re going above the government’s own recommended limits, that’s a real problem. Be aware of how much plastic is in your environment. Even the linoleum floors are made out of plastic. That’s another source. If you’re putting in a new floor, oftentimes you can get away from that and find something that’s not plastic. Polyurethane is not plastic. It’s a lot better than a wood floor with polyurethane, for example, and a lot better than these artificial plastic floors and shower curtains.
I’m thinking about those children still because I was remembering I gave my kids sippy cups, pacifiers, and so many plastic toys. The first line of defense is to make sure there is not so much plastic around where our children are and what they’re eating and where they’re playing in such.
They are a lot more sensitive because their hormones are still basically triggering a lot of extra additional development. They’ve done studies on children’s mattresses like crib mattresses. They find that those levels are above the government’s limits in a lot of cases. You have to be especially careful what your children are sleeping on. If you happen to have a vinyl mattress, figure out some way to cover that all up because that’s a lot of plastic leaching into the air. The new car smell too. New car smell is plastic. A mutual friend of ours from Minnesota here puts on these retreats in the cold weather and things. You were at one of them.
He talks about how to combat these toxins. When it’s hot in the summer, there’s a lot more leaching going on into your car and in the air. You can roll down the windows and turn on your fan for a little bit and blow out some of those phthalates and chemicals. That’s a great practical tip for people as we go into the summer to find another way to avoid these toxins. I saw people wearing plastic face masks. They’re bragging about how they’re recycling plastic from the oceans and making it into face masks. People are wearing these in these hospitals or around town, which is ridiculous because they’re basically breathing in all these toxins and they’re throwing off their CO2 balance. It’s going to achieve the opposite effect of what they’re looking for.
I like to get athletic wear from a certain company. I noticed some of their little spandex leggings and stuff, they’ll say, “These are made from recycled water bottles.” I’m thinking, “Is that a good idea?” It’s the same thing. Why would I want to put that on my body?
It’s a frustrating thing. They tout this as technology, the idea that we can take plastics and make fabrics from plastic, but it’s not a great situation. Even if it wasn’t a health issue, which it is, it’s creating more plastic that we’re dumping into landfills and into the oceans. That’s certainly an issue for wildlife and the ocean. It’s certainly an issue for humans as well.
Step one is becoming aware of how much plastic we’re surrounded by in our homes and with the toys and all that. Step two, pay attention to how much plastic is around our food. What else should we be looking for?
People oftentimes ask me about personal care products because all of them are in plastics. It’s okay. You’re going to have some leaching into those soaps, like the shampoos and conditioners. They’re going to leach plastic chemicals, but it’s pretty much inevitable. At some point, you’re going to have some plastic exposure. I don’t think people need to be too hypochondriac from those. Look around your environment. Everybody is different. Figure out where your major exposures are if you have major exposures and try and slowly eliminate them over time. If you can afford it, you can be more extreme. If you have a risk for breast cancer or if you have low testosterone, you should be more extreme.
A lot of these estrogen issues like polycystic ovarian, you want to be more aware of your environment and more strict with yourself in avoiding these plastics. Everybody needs to take steps these days because they’re everywhere. It’s harming not only our mental health and our physical health, it’s changing the way we think, frankly. They’ve done animal studies for example, with rats. They find male sex and motivation go way down. You see it in our culture now, particularly with this lockdown situation. You see a lot of apathy and people don’t seem to care what’s going on. It’s a problem. We’ve set up our culture to be accepting of any kind of BS that was being thrown. A lot of our freedoms are being taken away because of that apathy that we’re chemically inducing. That’s a scary thing.
Nobody’s quite framed it that way to me before, but that toxins could be making us apathetic. You’re saying plastic in particular.
It’s because they’re acting like estrogen. Again, that’s altering the way our brains function and approach problems. It’s not necessarily aggression. Although sometimes, when people raise their testosterone absurdly high, they get aggressive, but it’s more about receptivity. If you have low testosterone and high estrogen, you’re generally more receptive. That’s great in certain situations, but taken to a too far of an extreme, if you dose people up with estrogen too much, then they’re receptive to all kinds of silliness, like mandatory vaccines. It’s a lot of things that we shouldn’t be blindly walking into and walking off a cliff. We should be a lot less receptive about those things and have a lot more questions.
Coming up, Anthony speaks to us about how to lower our exposure to plastics and how to detoxify our bodies.
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What I hear you saying is we can think more clearly if our hormones are functioning properly.
It’s crazy to me that you literally see depression in children when they have high levels of BPA in their urine and phthalates in their urine are plastic chemicals because children don’t have mortgages. They don’t have all this stress. Nowadays, of course, they do have social media and there are problems with some of that going on, the bullying and whatnot, but still, they shouldn’t have clinical depression. Clearly, it’s affecting everybody.
Avoid plastics. Get them out of your life. It’s not just about recycling. It’s about your health.
Have you worked with patients that you have helped obviously with a smart guy, but with others who you’ve helped lower their exposure to plastics and estrogen-mimicking chemicals? Have you seen improvement in their mental clarity and other areas of their life as well?
All the time. I do DNA consulting. There are people that are more sensitive than other people. It’s like carbs. Some people have amazing genetics for basically dealing with carbs, but that’s rare. Some people do have amazing genetics for managing carbs. They eat a lot of carbs and they think everybody else should be able to eat a lot of carbs and have no issues. Those are usually the ones out there that are loud and telling everybody calorie counting works and eating lots of carbs is great.
Most people can’t deal with that. Their genes don’t support that. Almost everybody, but there are always exceptional people. Estrogen is the same way. These toxins is the same thing. When I’m looking at people’s genetics, if you’ve got poor toxin clearance genes, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to have problems. There are some genes involved in heavy metal clearance in glutathione, for example.
In that case, it helps to support your system by taking liposomal glutathione or finding other ways to increase your glutathione. NAC is a good one, N-acetyl cysteine. There are a lot of technical things you can get into, but it does vary for different people, but specific to these plastic chemicals, if you’ve got poor estrogen genes or if you can’t clear these artificial estrogens, you see a lot of immediate problems like gynecomastia, which basically means breast tissue development in males, for example.
You see things like that. Again, other people that don’t have those issues scoff and say, “I drink out of plastic bottles every day and I have no issues.” First of all, sometimes as you age, your metabolism goes down and you become more sensitive to those issues as you age. Secondly, some people are more genetically disposed at any age to have health issues from those chemicals. We shouldn’t make a general rule based on somebody who’s exceptional at clearing these chemicals or toxins.
Let’s say I do my best now to avoid foods wrapped in plastic and I’m drinking out of my glass water bottle all day and things like that, how would you recommend that I detox my system from these estrogen-mimicking chemicals?
Find a way to sweat. Right now my sauna is inaccessible so I try and find ways to work out to induce a sweat at least three times a week. I preferably use a sauna. There’s so much research. They’ve done twenty-year studies on saunas. They literally find that all-cause mortality decreases. There’s less cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and everything when you use a sauna three times a week. If you get more than three times, that’s great, but at least three times seems to be the magic number.
Again, if you don’t have access to a sauna, sweat it. They’ve done studies on BPA and phthalates. People can look it up. They’re called BUS studies, Blood, Urine, Sweat. They find some people don’t urinate any of these chemicals out, but when they go in saunas, they sweat out a ton of them, even when that’s not in their urine.
We know it’s a wise tradition worldwide in different cultures to have a sweat lodge or a place where that is exactly happening.
That’s a great tradition, thing, and wisdom that people need, especially now. Back then, our ancestors probably had some heavy metals in their water and had a few toxins but nothing compared to what we have now. It’s even more important now. I don’t think people should underestimate how important that is.
I feel like I might have asked you this on another episode because you’ve been a guest before, but if you were going to lower your plastic exposure, where would you start?
I would start with the pantry and in particular, the Tupperware. Get glass. It lasts a long time. I’d suggest starting there with the foods that you’re putting in your body directly and the liquids. If you’ve got these plastic bottles and things like that, I recommend people ditch them then they get stainless steel or glass. People argue about how much leaching there is and all this. There’s definitely leaching. Historically, they used to say that BPA doesn’t leach. That’s clearly wrong. Now we know that, but scientists used to assure everybody that it’s okay, BPA doesn’t leach. Did you know that in the 1940s or so, or maybe even as early as the ‘20s, they were researching BPA as birth control?
No, I didn’t know that.
They were literally investigating it because they knew it acts like estrogen. When they found out that you can make plastic from BPA, they said, “Let’s shift gears and make money in that direction.” They went around, assuring everybody it doesn’t leach because the BPA molecules are all linked together, so there are no “free” BPA molecules. We know now that’s wrong because there’s always going to be some free BPA molecules that get into your liquid when you have plastic.
What’s ironic is they’ve done the same thing with phthalates. Scientists right now, not all of them because it’s becoming more and more outdated and obvious that this isn’t true, but a lot of scientists are out there trying to convince people that it’s okay, phthalates don’t leach. If you look at plastic number 1 in the recycling symbol on the bottom of it, that’s polyethylene terephthalate. Most people are trying to say that one is okay because it’s BPA-free.
First of all, BPA-free, Bisphenol A is BPA. You can make plastic from Bisphenol S which is just as estrogenic, toxic, and problematic as BPA, but then you can say it’s BPA-free because now it’s BPS and you can keep changing the letters on the end. You can change the chemistry a little bit so you can make BPF, you can make BPAF.
You can make all these BPs, Bisphenols. There’s a crazy amount of issues there in that direction. If you completely changed the plastic and make polyethylene terephthalate, then you end up with phthalate leeching. I contacted a company about this. I contacted one of the best companies in the United States where they do water testing and it was $300 per sample. I was willing to pay for it.
I figured for the public and educating people on my Instagram, I’ll pay for it and test a bunch of bottled waters from the grocery store and test for BPA, that’s $300, and then test for phthalates and that’s again $300. What was crazy is our natural estrogen is between 20 nanograms per liter for men and up to 200 nanograms per liter for women. Depending on the time of the month for women, they can also be around 20 like men, but then they also go up to about 200. What’s crazy is the testing for BPA, they tested it down to about 10 nanograms per liter, which is good. That’s below what our natural estrogen is. At least it’s relevant.
The BPA testing is relevant to our actual levels of hormones, but then the phthalates, this company test, the lowest that they would test for phthalates was like 10,000 nanograms per liter. If it was anywhere below that, they wouldn’t flag it. They would say, “You’re okay, you don’t have any phthalates in there,” but if it was above 10,000, then they would flag it out of the red flag and say, “Here’s your level.” In other words, we’re not even measuring to determine if the phthalates are leaching yet. In the BPA, we’re doing a good job.
It’s like their standard was so high that they might be like, “You’re cool,” but it could have up to 10,000 nanograms.
Isn’t that crazy? In other words, they’re testing BPA at proper levels. That’s why everybody is saying, “Watch out for BPA. It leaches like crazy,” because they’re measuring it. In phthalates, they’re ignoring anything below 10,000. They’re basically saying, “It’s okay, it doesn’t leach,” but that’s because they’ve set the bar so high. It’s leaching. They’re not just picking it up. They’re not trying to measure lower.
I’m grateful that you’re getting this information out to people because it seems like there are so many other things people are paying attention to, especially now, but there are small things that we can take control of that will improve our health immeasurably.
I’m sure you’ve had a lot of guests on here talking about that specific thing. These toxins are problematic for your immune system. There’s no question. Even from that perspective, this is a great time as ever to overhaul here and get those things out of your life.
I’m thankful that people are spending more time at home right now so that they can focus on how they’re nourishing their families and taking care of their bodies. This is a good time. My final question to you now, Anthony, if the reader could do one thing to improve their health, what would you recommend that they do?
In the context of our discussion, I recommend avoiding plastics. Get them out of your life. It’s not just about recycling, it’s about your health. That’s a major overlooked thing in a lot of these documentaries people are watching right now. It’s the issue.
Anthony, thank you so much. We’ve given people a lot to think about. I’m grateful for your time.
Thanks for having me.
Our guest was Dr. Anthony Jay. Visit his website at AJConsultingCompany.com. For a letter from our journal, “LEDs. Some scientists have expressed skepticism at a link between blue light and AMD, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, especially given that what matters is not just the light spectrum in question, but the intensity or the strength of the light and the duration of exposure. As one article has noted, even incandescence can cause damage to the eye. LEDs are able to do this more quickly. A study showed that the damage wasn’t caused by blue light in general, but by looking directly at the light. As the Madrid scientist herself put it from a study of LEDs on albino rats, she said, ‘Eyes are not designed to look directly at light. They’re designed to see with light.’ Given that this is how light bulbs function, people rarely look directly at them.”
“The greater issue isn’t with lighting choices, but with the technology that many people use. Researchers have also pointed out that the most likely mechanism for damage oxidative stress. We may end up discovering as with sun exposure that the culprit isn’t the light, but the poor nutritional and health status of those exposed to it. Thus, a traditional nutrient-rich and antioxidant-laden diet is the best for people who have little choice but to look at light along with employing common sense, learning to sit farther away from technological gadgets when being used, reading real books instead of eBooks, technological fixes, and such that we may discuss in a forthcoming article.”
That is from John Moody from Kentucky. John, thank you for that Letter To The Editor for elucidating us on the subject of LED. If you have a letter you’d like to write, email us at Info@WestonAPrice.org, and we may submit your Letter To The Editor for an upcoming journal. That’s it, everyone. Thank you so much for reading. Stay well. Hasta pronto.
About Dr. Anthony Jay
Dr. Anthony Jay is the President and CEO of AJ Consulting Company.
Dr. Jay earned a B.A. with a double major in Biology and Theology from Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, where he researched HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) inhibitors. After college, he continued to work with virus (lentivirus) in the context of Alzheimer’s disease for the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Next, Dr. Jay earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Boston University School of Medicine, researching fats, hormones, and cholesterol. Dr. Jay has also worked for 3 years as a scientific researcher at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, researching stem cells, epigenetics, and infrared light.
Currently, in addition to leading AJCCo, Dr. Jay is a bestselling author of Estrogeneration.
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