Diet and Premature Sexual Maturity
April 18th, 2010

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Dear John,

Do you have any information on a link between diet and premature sexual maturity?


Dear Don,

One of the first researchers to find that U.S. girls are maturing at ever more tender ages is Dr. Marcia E. Herman-Giddens of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Quite recently, she and her colleagues have presented more data, this time for boys. They looked at the onset of pubic hair growth and at the maturation of genitalia among young males in the United States, and found incontrovertible evidence that boys, too, are starting puberty at earlier and earlier ages.

Most evidence indicates that boys should begin genital maturation by age 14. But according to Herman-Giddens’ study, one-third of U.S. boys now reach this milestone by age 8.

Herman-Giddens believes that U.S. kids’ high-fat, low-fiber diets and lack of exercise are leading to body-fat changes that affect puberty onset. Another factor that is likely involved, she says, is exposure to environmental chemicals that affect hormonal function.

Meanwhile, 98% of U.S. beef cattle are injected with growth hormones, and one-third of our dairy herd are injected with genetically engineered bovine growth hormones. No other industrialized nation on Earth has allows this, but in the United States it is standard operating procedure.

I discuss these developments at some length in Diet For A New America, on pages 309-313. For further information on this topic, you might want to look at what I’ve written there. The book is available through this website.

These developments are not only unnatural, they are markedly unhealthy. Studies show that the earlier children reach puberty, the more likely they are to later develop cancer. But I don’t think we need studies to tell us that eight-year-olds are too young to handle the powerful physical and emotional changes that come with sexual maturity. I wonder how many young girls are becoming pregnant because they reached reproductive potential before they were old enough to fully understand the changes that were happening to them.

Thanks for caring. Our kids deserve better than we are creating for them, don’t they?


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