Life Science Blog

There must be something in the water

More than just H2O comes out of your kitchen tap

November 2, 2011

Well, I hate to use a cliché but it seems there might be something in the water. In most big cities, the levels of estrogens in tap water are higher than elsewhere. Traces of the female contraceptive pill are often blamed as the culprit.

While working at the London Royal Free Hospital, Dr. Jean Ginsburg focused on water quality and its health implications. Her research led her to conclude that lower sperm counts and odd looking sperm cells were the result of a cocktail of chemicals found in the river Thames. Not good news for the London bloke.

Not only is the reproductive quality of the urban male taking a battering: the physical appearance of some men has begun to mimic the female form.

According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, there has been an abrupt rise in the number of men popping in for a breast reduction procedure in recent years. It is now the second most common cosmetic procedure for UK men. Again, the offender seems to be alterations in hormone levels, notably an increase in estrogens.

This is not only bad news for human men – other species are being affected. Some fish populations who live close to sewage works have deformed reproductive organs. Male fish blood samples have also shown concentrations of vitellogenin, the female egg protein.

So it seems that men in cities have a higher intake of estrogens if they drink tap water, as they inevitably will. Serious news since we know that estrogens alter behavior, brain activity, aggression and physical appearance.

About the Author

Benjamin Plackett

Benjamin Plackett is proud native of North Yorkshire, England and a graduate of Imperial College London with a B.Sc. honors degree in biology with a year in Europe. He loves writing about all things science, but has a particular penchant for health and also political stories. Check out his website and follow him on Twitter: @BenjPlackett


1 Comment

Ashley Taylor says:

But drink the tap water anyway! Bottled water has its own set of problems.
So the men pop in to see a plastic surgeon when their chests start popping out? “I’ll just pop to the surgeon…”

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