Green Tea an 'Endocrine Disruptor'? If so, Everything Is

By Gil Ross — Dec 09, 2015
A new report details adverse effects of high-exposures to "green tea polyphenols" on reproduction and development in fruit flies, after exposing their larvae to those substances. But the authors suggest that these same compounds can do the same thing to humans. Another case of "endocrine disruption" or junk science nonsense? Can you guess what we think?

Fruit FlyNo matter now often we ask the "endocrine disruptor" contingent this question Please tell us, what are the endocrines that are being disrupted, allegedly, by all those "toxic" chemicals you impugn? we end up getting no satisfaction.

Since the definition of an endocrine disruptor seems to expand or contract to suit the agenda of the "environmental" group seeking to target a chemical, and since I never encountered any scientist or physician who used the term to aid in the diagnosis or treatment of any human condition, I urge that it be abandoned.

Thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its many related regulators, and the myriad "green" Non-Government Organizations which continue to promulgate the term when they seek to get some substance regulated off the market, or put on some skull-and-crossbones "toxic" list such as California's Prop. 65, the term has a life of its own.

There is even an "Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program" researching the "low-dose" effects ascribed to some chemicals. (The low-dose effect is the concept that some chemicals have toxic effects at low exposures that are not seen at higher levels. Yeah, right? See "the 2nd law of thermodynamics"!)

ACSH's publication, as well as federally-funded peer-reviewed studies by Dr. Justin Teeguarden, among others, have (I thought) expunged the vague and non-scientific term from rationale discourse.

Sadly, that is not yet the case, as is evidenced by a new report published in the Journal of Functional Foods by a group well-versed in such assessments of natural food products herbs, spices and root extracts, for example that people have ingested for centuries because of their alleged health benefits. Their article is entitled "The impact of green tea polyphenols on development and reproduction in Drosophila melanogaster."

Led by Dr. Mahtab Jafari, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at University of California-Irvine, this latest study bathed fruit flies (Drosphila melanogaster) in lots of green-tea polyphenols (GTPs), and the results can be summarized thusly:

"Fruit fly larvae were exposed to green tea polyphenols only during development. A high dose delayed development, reduced offspring sizes and impaired reproduction. Morphological abnormalities of reproductive organs were observed."

Notice the key words, "high dose." So if fruit fly larvae are awash in GTPs, the progeny (especially the males) are somewhat dysfunctional, and the fertility is also reduced.

But wait for their punchline: High doses of GTPs may cause developmental adverse effects in humans.

Wait, what?

The authors decided to extrapolate their high-dose insect work to the ingestion of green tea in people, with the inference of reproductive and developmental consequences of a similar nature. Well, that would be endocrine disruption, for sure if there were a hint of a scientific basis for this inanity. However, as sure as my own endocrines are being titillated right now, some (many?) "environmental" anti-chemical groups will extract the terms "endocrine disruption" and "environmental chemical" and craft it into a scaremongering fund-raising alert. The Environmental Working Group is my bet for the first one there.