What You Should Know About Precocious Puberty

 

Remember puberty – that awkward, sometimes uncomfortable phase of childhood that somehow meant you were turning into a young woman? Do you remember how old you were when it hit or when you first got your period? Well if you have a daughter, chances are she has or will be experiencing puberty much, much younger than you did. It’s called “precocious puberty” – the appearance of secondary sex characteristics like pubic hair or breast growth before age 8, or the onset of menarche before age 9 – and impacts at least 1 in 5,000 U.S. children, and the rate is on the rise.

Currently the average age of the onset of menstruation is 12. But even before the first period, changes start to happen to girls’ bodies – signs of development, such as breast “budding” and growth of pubic hair. And these developments have become so common amongst 7, 8 and 9 year olds that doctors have simply deemed it the new “normal”. But are our girls ready for these changes and puberty at such a young age? What negative consequences might there be? Unfortunately, many. Early puberty can set the stage for emotional and behavioral problems, and is linked to lower self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, alcohol use, earlier loss of virginity, more sexual partners and increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases. There is also evidence that suggests these girls are at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer, later in life.

Why the change in onset? There are several theories out there with the biggest being that environmental chemicals are playing a role. We’re surrounded by chemicals in products everyday and some of these chemicals contain estrogen-mimicking, “gender-bending” chemicals – chemicals that disrupt hormones. For example, Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial petrochemical that acts as a synthetic estrogen, is found in our plastics and our tin can linings, in dental sealants and on cash-register receipts. In tests done by the Environmental Working Group, 90% of of newborns tested had BPA in their umbilical cord blood. Scary, huh? Other chemicals include phthalates, a group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient. They’re also one of the most pervasive of the endocrine disrupters, found in everything from processed food packaging and shower curtains to detergents, toys and beauty products like nail polish, hair spray, shampoo, deodorants, and fragrances. There’s also PCBs and DDE which may also be associated with early sexual development in girls. And on top of all that, these chemicals can increase the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Another possible factor in early puberty is a deficiency in Vitamin D. In one study, upon measuring vitamin D levels in 242 girls aged 5-12, researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that those who were deficient were twice as likely to start menstruation during the study period as those with higher levels. Vitamin D deficiency is also a major risk factor for cancer, heart disease and many other diseases. Entering puberty early also puts one at more risk for certain cancers such as breast cancer because one is exposed to estrogen for a longer period of time. So it could be that some of the increased risks that come from early puberty are linked to low vitamin D levels.

And finally, obesity and stress have both been linked to precocious puberty. Obesity exposes girls to more estrogen because estrogen is both stored and produced in fat tissue. The main theory about stress seems to be: “Evolutionary psychology offers a theory,” the New York Times reports. “A stressful childhood inclines a body toward early reproduction; if life is hard, best to mature young. But such theories are tough to prove.”

So what can you do? Looking at the above, you can try to avoid environmental chemicals as much as possible. You can make sure your daughter is getting plenty of sun exposure (while wearing plenty of sunscreen!) and taking a Vitamin D supplement. And regular exercise appears to be one of the best known ways to help prevent early puberty. Other things to keep in mind though are that because of precocious puberty, you may need to start broaching some tricky subjects with your child a bit earlier than you’d planned. Make sure your child knows their body will be changing and that it’s normal for everyone to change at different rates. Younger children are often far more receptive to talking about body issues and puberty. And there’s a possibility that the “birds and the bees” talk might need to happen earlier as hormones are hitting earlier. Most important of all though? Our daughters need us to model loving their bodies and appreciating what those amazing bodies can do rather than criticizing it or wishing for something different.

What’s In YOUR Sunscreen?

Sunscreen

It’s finally summer – the best time of year! Beaches, boardwalks, cookouts, parks, pools…wow, that’s a lot of activities happening outdoors. That means you’ll be picking up your favorite sunscreen and slathering it on (I hope – please do!) before you head out the door, which is fabulous. But do you know what’s in your sunscreen? Some sunscreens aren’t protecting you as much as you think. In fact, some are actually doing your body harm.

The 2016 spring report from Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 72% of the sunscreens tested contained harmful ingredients or were inadequate sun protection. This is their 10th annual Guide to Sunscreens report, and while the report shows there have been some improvements, the vast majority of sunscreens available in the U.S. still contain toxic chemicals or fail to offer enough protection against UV rays.

Why should you care so much? I mean, it’s not like your putting sunscreen in your body, right? Did you know, that your skin absorbs up to 60% of what you put on it? That’s 60% of those toxic chemicals being absorbed into your body. And even if a chemical isn’t so harmful that it affects us right away, some bio-accumulate in the body, taking their toll over time. So what are you looking for?

The most problematic of the sunscreen chemicals used in the U.S. is oxybenzone, found in nearly every chemical sunscreen, which can penetrate the skin causing allergic reactions and disrupting hormones. In fact, the EWG’s sunscreen report found that 70% of sunscreens contained this chemical. Then there’s methylisothiazolinone. This one is used in personal care products like sunscreen, shampoo, and conditioner as a preservative to keep your products fresh on the shelf. The problem? A recent study found the chemical may actually be linked to nerve damage. And not only that, but a 2012 study found that brief exposure to MIT is toxic in low concentrations during neural development, increasing the risk of seizures and visual abnormalities. Plus EWG says MIT is a skin sensitizer and irritant, which means that it can cause contact allergies. This one’s a doozy! There’s also homosalate, which disrupts estrogen, androgen, and progesterone.

What’s the solution? We all know that a) Vitamin D is vitally important, and b) we can’t completely avoid the sun, but there are plenty of ways to avoid the damaging rays of the sun. Clothing is the biggest alternative. Wear something white or light colored so it will reflect the rays of light and pop on a sun hat for extra protection. Another natural alternative to sunscreen? Sesame oil! Sesame oil can block out approximately 30% of the sun rays. Apply to your body every two hours for maximum results. Another non-toxic alternative? Sunscreens that use zinc oxide. These sunscreens provide a physical barrier rather than a chemical barrier, which means no chemicals are getting into your body. OR make your own, home-made sunscreen with ingredients such as zinc oxide, coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils. Here’s a great recipe to get you started. You can also find our round-up of natural alternatives to sunscreen here.

Always be sure to check the ingredients in everything before you buy. We want you to have a safe, healthy, and happy summer! And if you’d like to learn more about toxins like these and how they can affect your hormones, call to make an appointment with us – we can tell you more about these and other chemicals, including the dangers and what products are better to use.

*Read EWG’s full report HERE*

Is Milk Doing Your Body Good?

Milk

Milk does a body good! Right? Actually…your milk could be setting off chain reactions of inflammation, hormone issues, and dietary malfunctions in your body. Not really doing a body good now, is it?

The biggest milk myth we’ve been taught is that we should consume cow’s milk because it’s full of calcium which is good for our bones. But scientific studies have shown that we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized), but to make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones. In fact, higher milk consumption has been shown to help increase bone fractures.

Milk and other dairy based products can also be a trigger causing people to become lactose intolerant – which means they suffer from bowel cramping, bloating or even loose stools after eating dairy. Dairy can be a real gut irritant in general. Lots of us have undiagnosed dairy sensitivities or allergies, which means our gut gets very cranky with us at the slightest hint of dairy.

There’s more than that though. Consuming dairy can lead to more than just a bit of tummy upset – it can lead to a world of health problems (a lot chronic). How does it do this? By contributing to low-grade systemic inflammation, an important developmental factor in cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, metabolic ailments, and chronic disease. Inflammatory reactions to irritants, like casein from cow’s milk, can even trigger autoimmune disorders.

Other downsides of dairy include:

  1. hypothyroidism;

  2. growth hormones that cause mayhemMilk contains hormones (organic or not). Milk from a pregnant cow is still filled with hormones that mingle with your own. And did you know that hormonal disruptions that cause acne and other skin irritations also contribute to carcinogens and chronic diseases that are so prevalent in Western societies?

Guys, it’s time to give up the dairy for good – and we know how hard that is, trust us! It’s so delicious and creamy, and quite literally, addicting. That’s because it contains casmorphins – opiate-like compounds that create that “can’t stop, must eat” feeling. We know you can do it though. And there are fabulous dairy alternatives out there, and other ways to get the calcium your body needs (and it needs a lot so make sure you’re getting enough!). Try soy or almond milk. Two cups of chopped kale also contain 19% daily value of calcium, and when you add that to a diet rich in other dark leafy greens, you’ll be hitting your daily calcium intake with no trouble at all. Hummus has that creamy plus salty taste and texture you get from cheese but is so much better for you.

Just, try removing dairy from your diet for 21 days. During that time, keep notes about how you feel. When the 21 days are up, reintroduce a single dairy product and see how you feel. Then come back and tell us how the experiment went. We’re excited to see how much better you feel!