It may seem like an idea right out of some science fiction novel, but the reality is that the high levels of estrogen from birth control pills are causing mutations in fish and frogs. The hormones, coming from the sewage runoff of major cities, is mutating aquatic life near major urban areas across the US. While most people are not worried about this at the moment, experts believe that it is only a matter of time until the high levels of hormones in the water affect humans.
birth control pills
The use of birth control pills are starting to become more prominently used in the continental US, with the statistics showing that more and more people are using it. There are reports of side effects and unusual reactions to them, but these are generally considered to be a natural part of the process. After all, any medication, even herbal and natural ones, can result in someone experiencing potentially harmful or uncomfortable side effects. However, most of these medications are not found to have any profound effect on anyone or anything else, aside from the person taking the medication. However, there are some signs that show birth control pills may be responsible for mutations and “alterations” to the natural environment.
It has been recently discovered that the hormones contained and triggered by birth control pills, once washed into natural water supplies, can have an effect on aquatic life. The most dramatic, and most recent, example being the discovery of mutated trout in a stream near Boulder, Colorado. While it wasn’t unusual for a vast majority of the trout population to be female, the fact that 101 females were present in contrast to 12 males was rather disturbing. Some experts have commented that such drastic differences could pose difficulty in properly maintaining the population. However, even more alarming were the 10 samples that exhibited both male and female physical characteristics.
Initially, these 10 mutations were taken as natural occurrences, but further investigation found that these creatures developed their unusual traits due to exposure to high levels of estrogen and progesterone. It took time, but it was eventually traced back to the various birth control pills and other hormone-based medication being used by the human population in Boulder. This isn’t a limited problem, however, with reports coming in about similar mutations and effects on a variety of other species coming in from all over the US. In particular, rainbow trout male fertility is found to drop to an alarmingly low level because of exposure to the synthetic estrogen found in a number of birth control medications.
While this may seem utterly unimportant in the face of larger issues, some environmentalists say that there might be more to this problem than some people assume. The levels of estrogen and other synthetic hormones in the water may not have a direct effect on human beings now, but as the use of birth control increases and more of these hormones are washed into the water supply through human sewage, the problem can only get worse. Also, it is believed that the main reason that nobody has noted the effects of these high levels of synthetic hormones in the water on humans is that nobody has actually conducted a serious study on the effects of it yet.
However, some politically astute observers will note that this is unlikely to be made a major environmental issue. Unlike the debate between genetically modified crops and organically grown ones, this issue is intrinsically tied with an aspect of people’s lives that most organizations would be unwilling to meddle in. Some believe that the debate will come down to sex education and sexual health against environmental preservation, with the latter being the most likely loser in the public arena. Of course, that is probably going to be the case until human mutations occur. At which point, some environmentalists and biologists believe, the damage may already be too much to undo.
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