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Are You On It and Don't Know It?
Pamela Levin, R.N., T.S.T.A.
May 21, 2012
Pamela Levin is an R.N. and a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst. She has
maintained a private practice 42 years and taught and trained lay and professional audiences around the world about
creating a successful emotional life for each individual and in relationships.
Hormone replacement therapy always
requires a prescription, right? You go to the doctor, list your complaints, get an exam and come out with
a piece of paper you deliver to the pharmacist in return for a chunk of change and some pills or cream,
right? Surely you would KNOW if you've engaged in that process.
How could it be, then that you could be on hormone replacement and not know
it? Here's how:
Everybody on the planet that's on hormone replacement therapy passes their
urine into one of two places where it collects. For most people, that means the local sewage system, and
for others, it means an individual septic tank, the leach field of which drains into the water table and
then into rivers and streams.
Then, if someone wants to get rid of an old prescription hormone, the easiest
and most common way has been to simply flush it down the toilet. But flushing them, whether directly, or
with a pass through the human body first, still leaves them biologically active. How active? Enough
to feminize fish.
What this means is that any hormones that individual person is taking end up in
the water table or sewage treatment plant. Whether that water is then directly reclaimed and turned into
drinking water, or goes into rivers and streams and then pumped out to turn into drinking water, the
result is the same - hormones in drinking water. If you live in a major metropolitan area, your risk is much
greater than that in small outlying areas, but even outlying areas have been demonstrated to be
Doesn't the sewage treatment plant clean the water and remove the
In a word, no. In fact, as of this writing, most municipal water
districts don't even to test for these hormones. A recent study of California drinking water showed
that even when additional techniques - even ones that included reverse osmosis were employed, the results
showed more but not all of these substances were removed.
What about bottled water?
A great deal of bottled water is sourced from ordinary tap water before it is
bottled. Some is taken from aquifers. Regardless, the quality of the water totally depends on its source
and treatment, so for now it is unlikely that the bottled water is any more pure than
from that from the tap. Additionally, if the bottle is plastic and has been exposed to heat during its
storage and transport, it likely contains substances that are estrogen mimics.
What are the hormones in question?
Here are the most common ones:
Estrogen. This is the big kahuna - the hormone
currently of greatest concern and impact. Why? Because estrogen tells cells to 'grow', and those orders
reach not only your body cells, but any viruses, bacteria, yeast, fungi, parasites and, yes, cancer cells, and
tell them to grow too!
Progesterone, synthetic progestins, and other
progestagens (progesterone-like compounds). These arecurrently included
on Calfornia'sProp 65 list, a ballot initiative passed with the intent to protect citizens and the
state's drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive
harm. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment ("OEHHA") includes all these
substances on that list. Although progesterone is non-water
soluble in its natural form, and therefore unlikely to turn up in drinking water, its chemical forms can show
up. Increasing levels of progesterone in fat cells can feel like being pregnant.
Testosterone. This is a male hormone
favored by body builders and athletes because it helps build muscle, but now being prescribed for women to
'improve libido.' Emerging research estimates that an estimated 65% of men over 40 have low testosterone levels
in relation to estrogen - in other words, they are estrogen dominant secondary to exposure to estrogen and
toxic endocrine disruptors. This results in sexual performance problems and a variety of health threats,
including loss of muscle tone and increased body fat. Unfortunately it is often addressed with a
testosterone prescription rather than by lowering the excess estrogen.
Birth control hormones. These include
both synthetic and bioidentical estrogens and progesterones/ progestins. Again, the hormones of greatest
concern are those containing estrogen; consuming them via your drinking water throws off the hormone
balance of anyone consuming them, man, woman, child, pet or farm animal.
Human growth hormone.Often referred to
as "HGH" for short, recently has become very popular, touted as the new fountain of youth. Also used by
body builders and people who want to lose fat.
Thyroid hormone. This hormone is routinely prescribed
to a large number of people because thyroid problems are increasing.
Androgen blockers, such as Tricolsan (which is
reported to also block thyroid
What are the long term effects of this exposure?
At this point the answer to that question is a big 'unknown' in terms of actual
research results. However, common sense tells you that that since these substances build up in the
body, and since they are designed to be effective in small doses, and since they are retained in fatty
tissue, over time the effects are cumulative.
What can we do?
First of all, we need to accept that it's not a perfect world, and we need to
do the best we possibly can. We can be informed and pro-active without developing a neurosis about
drinking water! That said, here are some practical tips:
Water filtration: You can use filtration- that will remove
some, but not all the impurities in water. How much depends on the system and how often
you clean the filter. Distilled water is the most pure, but many people object to how it tastes, plus it
is devoid of naturally occurring healthy minerals.Second best is a reverse osmosis filter. Third best is an
activated carbon filter that you change regularly. (As of this writing, activated carbon filters have not
been demonstrated to remove pharmaceuticals by any researchers independent of the manufacturers.) Perhaps a
combination of these methods would be even better; however this has not yet been demonstrated.
Boiling the water does not remove medications.
Safe disposal of your prescriptions: Do not use the toilet or
sink to flush down any unused medications. Instead take them to the local toxic landfill site where they
can be disposed of properly.
Political action: Lobby your water district to use reverse osmosis as
this cleans up more (but not all) the medications. Don't accept the argument that drug residue
concentrations are extremely diluted. Since these 'extremely diluted concentrations' have been
demonstrated in trace amounts to harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species, and since in the laboratory
they have been shown to impair human cell function, they are too much. And these laboratory studies don't even
take into account the effects of combinations of these substances. Write letters to the editor of your
local newspaper. Include the subject in your online communications. Participate in educating
To become better informed and to keep abreast of new developments on this subject,
here are some contacts recommended by Scientific American: USGS Water Resources, water.usgs.gov; Sierra
Club, www.sierraclub.org/watersentinels; NSF International, www.nsf.org; Natural News,
To review the information on the occurrence of pharmaceuticals in drinking water, the
website www.cleanwater.org lists
Pharmaceuticals In Drinking Water, Testimony of David Pringle, Campaign Director, New Jersey Environmental Federation, On Behalf of New Jersey
Environmental Federation and Clean Water Action Before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality, April 15, 2008
(pdf, 40 Kb)
Pharmaceuticals In Drinking Water, Testimony of Robert Wendelgass, National Deputy Director for Clean Water Action, to the Philadelphia City Council, April
14, 2008 (pdf, 28 Kb)
Pharmaceuticals In Drinking Water, Testimony of John McNabb, Director of Research and Policy for Clean Water Action New England, to oversight hearing
Joint Committee on Public Health Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture in
Massachusetts, May 13, 2008 (pdf, 95 Kb)
Through The Rhetoric About The Clean Water Restoration Act (pdf,
Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 (H.R. 2421)
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Tags: hormones in water hormones in the water water contaminants drinking water quality drinking water safe drinking water contamination is tap water safe
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