Penises are shrinking and genitals becoming malformed
because of pollution, an environmental scientist has warned
in a new book detailing the challenges facing human reproduction.
Dr Shanna Swan writes that humanity is facing an “existential crisis”
in fertility rates as a result of phthalates, a chemical used when
manufacturing plastics that impacts the hormone producing
endocrine system. As a result of this pollution, a growing number
of babies are being born with small penises, Dr Swan writes.
Her book, titled Count Down, examines “how our modern world is
threatening sperm counts, altering male and female reproductive
development, and imperiling the future of the human race.”
Dr Swan’s research began by examining phthalate syndrome,
something observed in rats which found that when fetuses were
exposed to the chemical they were likely to be born with shrunken genitals.
She discovered that male human babies who had been exposed
to the phthalates in the womb had a shorter anogenital distance
something that correlated with penile volume.
The chemical has an industrial use in making plastics more flexible,
but Dr Swan says it is being transmitted into toys and foods
and subsequently harms human development.
Phathalates mimic the hormone oestrogen and thus disrupt
the natural production of hormones in the human body,
which researchers have linked to interference in sexual development
in infants and behaviours in adults.
Dr Swan, who is a professor in environmental medicine and public
health at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, based her
work on series of peer-reviewed research studies.
One study published in 2017 found that sperm levels among men
in Western countries had dropped by more than 50% over the past
four decades after examining 185 studies involving close to 45,000 healthy men.
Dr Swan believes that the rapidly decreasing fertility rate means that
most men will be unable to produce viable sperm by 2045.