A new study on dog foods is causing quite a stir, for very good reason. Environmental chemicals are believed to be the cause in a decline in dog reproductive function; the very same chemicals were found in dog food.
First, Dr. Michael Fox provides this explanation of the study…
COMMERCIAL DOG FOODS AFFECT FERTILITY AND SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT
Researchers Richard G. Lea and associates published on Aug 9th, 20016, a report entitled Environmental chemicals impact dog semen quality in vitro and may be associated with a temporal decline in sperm motility and increased cryptorchidism. (In Nature, Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 31281 (2016) doi:10.1038/srep31281). Against the background of declining semen quality and rising incidence of undescended testes (Cryptorchidism) in humans associated with exposure to environmental chemicals (ECs) during development they report that “a population of breeding dogs exhibit a 26 year (1988–2014) decline in sperm quality and a concurrent increased incidence of cryptorchidism in male offspring (1995–2014). A decline in the number of males born relative to the number of females was also observed. ECs, including diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and polychlorinated bisphenol 153 (PCB153), were detected in adult dog testes and commercial dog foods at concentrations reported to perturb reproductive function in other species”.
Estrogen-mimicking, endocrine-disrupting chemicals have become virtually ubiquitous in many of the foods we consume, some of which, along with their byproducts, are included in most manufactured pet foods; in the can-linings of moist, and in plastic bagging and wrapping of dry and semi-moist foods. Plastic may also be processed into the manufactured food along with discarded meats, packaging and all.
Food wrappers and other industrial and commercial products from firefighting foam to water-repellant clothing contain poly-and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, detected in drinking water, have endocrine disrupting and carcinogenic properties.
Dioxins, predominantly released as byproducts of human activities such as incineration and fuel combustion, are a most potent class of carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. They are ubiquitous in the environment, and from the soil and vegetation undergo bioaccumulation in the fat (tallow) of cattle, and sea foods, especially farmed salmon, which are common pet food ingredients. Their adverse impact on wildlife reproduction and sexual development in several aquatic and terrestrial species has been well documented.
Other estrogen-mimicking and endocrine disrupting contaminants of pet (and human) foods include glyphosate and other herbicide residues such as atrazine in corn and other cereals along with phytoestrogens in soy products especially in GMO soy, a widely used pet food ingredient. Ethoxyquin is an endocrine disruptor and is still added to pet foods as an antioxidant to reduce rancidity.
Aflatoxin B1—yet another endocrine disruptor-from the mold on corn and other cereals, is often found in dry dog foods which are recalled too late to save many dogs from acute toxicity and death. Aflatoxins, dioxins and other endocrine disruptors, estrogen mimics, carcinogens and obesogens have harmful consequences in extremely low concentrations in the diet over an extended time period with possible synergism operating where one contaminant increases the toxicity of one or more others; and prenatal, epigenetic, developmental effects on the offspring of exposed parents.
For additional details visit www.drfoxvet.net and see review: CHEMICAL-RELATED HUMAN DISEASES IN COMPANION ANIMALS
Statement to appear in Animal Doctor syndicated newspaper column by Dr. Michael W. Fox.
What is an “endocrine disruptor”?
Wikipedia.com explains: “Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that, at certain doses, can interfere with endocrine (or hormone) systems. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors.”
EWG.org provides information titled “The Dirty Dozen of endocrine disruptors” (written for human concerns but certainly applicable to pet food too). Below are just a few excerpts…
BPA stands for bisphenol A. The chemical is found in the lining of many (most) canned foods (pet and human). To learn more about BPA in pet food Click Here.
EWG.org‘s warning on BPA: “Some may say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but do you really want a chemical used in plastics imitating the sex hormone estrogen in your body? No! Unfortunately, this synthetic hormone can trick the body into thinking it’s the real thing – and the results aren’t pretty. BPA has been linked to everything from breast and others cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease, and according to government tests, 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies!”
From EWG.org: “What happens when you introduce highly toxic chemicals into nature and turn your back? For one thing, feminization of male frogs. That’s right, researchers have found that exposure to even low levels of the herbicide atrazine can turn male frogs into females that produce completely viable eggs. Atrazine is widely used on the majority of corn crops in the United States, and consequently it’s a pervasive drinking water contaminant. Atrazine has been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate inflammation in animals, and some research has linked it to prostate cancer in people.”
Centers for Disease Control states “Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are often called plasticizers.”
From EWG.org: “Did you know that a specific signal programs cells in our bodies to die? It’s totally normal and healthy for 50 billion cells in your body to die every day! But studies have shown that chemicals called phthalates can trigger what’s known as “death-inducing signaling” in testicular cells, making them die earlier than they should. Yep, that’s cell death – in your man parts. If that’s not enough, studies have linked phthalates to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities.”
To add to the phthalates concern is a commonly used animal feed ingredient; grocery waste. Across the US, behind every grocery store are ‘recycling’ containers (looking identical to dumpsters) to hold expired grocery food. This material – in most cases including all plastic packaging – is ground and cooked to be included as an animal feed ingredient. During the AAFCO discussion of this ingredient, plastic containers were specifically mentioned (example expired yogurt cups in the plastic containers). Dr. Cathy Alinovi address the AAFCO committee expressing concern of phthalates in milk (as example); the industry audience openly and loudly boo-ed her. The point is, plastic material is fed to livestock animals that become food. Humans and pets are consuming those food products, also consuming the plastic/phthalates.
‘E’ is a commonly used “antioxidant” (otherwise known as a chemical preservative), linked to cancer. In 1992, the late Dr. Gloria Dodds addressed the concern of ‘E’ in pet foods with FDA; which was ignored. Ethoxyquin was originally manufactured by Monsanto. Unfortunately for consumers the inclusion of ‘E’ in a pet food is not always stated in the ingredient listing; if an ingredient supplier uses ‘E’ – not the actual manufacturer – current regulations do not require it to be stated in the pet food ingredients.
Personal opinion: What this study proves is that the risk from chemicals have been ignored far too long. The system of approving these chemicals is severely flawed; industry assures FDA and other regulatory bodies these chemicals are safe (GRAS – Generally Recognized as Safe), and all authorities blindly believe.
The safest food for your pet (and you) is organic, and meat from pasture raised (their entire life) animals. These foods are not cheap, but increased risk of serious disease isn’t cheap either. If you cannot afford to feed yourself and your pets with 100% organic and pasture raised animal meat/organic grains, fruits and vegetables – do some. Part clean food is better than no clean food.
Ask your pet food manufacturer:
- if meats are sourced from pasture raised animals (100% pasture raised) or sourced from livestock fed a commercial feed;
- if canned/moist pet foods contain BPA in the lining/packaging;
- if any ingredient was treated with ethoxyquin (by the manufacturer or the ingredient supplier);
- if vegetable and fruit ingredients were treated with any pesticide/is the pet food GMO free?
To read the full study, Click Here.
To read a NY Times story on the study, Click Here.
My sincere thanks to Dr. Fox for his contribution to this topic (he did all the heavy lifting!).
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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The List of pet foods I would not give my own pets. Click Here
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