Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Department of Paranoia

The NYT reports there are clusters of premature puberty in preschool children. Now, that is a scary prospect. As scientists investigate the reasons why, they come up with environmental and cosmetic factors. Nowadays many creams and shampoos contain hormones like testosterone and estrogen that are easily absorbed by the skin. So if a father uses a topical cream to enhance his masculinity, this can seep through the skin to his children, who then start sprouting pubic hair and, in the case of testosterone, exhibiting aggressive behavior. There are also other environmental pollutants, like certain plastifiers, that have created a high incidence of early puberty in places like Puerto Rico. And we all thought it was the balmy weather and the sultry rhythms that made girls develop faster in the Caribbean...
I can't think of anything more nightmarish for a child than to go into very early puberty. If it's a nightmare for teens, just imagine the fear and the chaos. I started imagining legions of five year olds with pubic hair. Horrific.
But as I read this fascinating article, it turns out that human sexual hormones are created by cholesterol:

Sex hormones are potent because they are easily absorbed through the skin and resist degradation better than many other hormones. Unlike protein-based hormones like insulin, sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen are technically steroids, meaning they are derived from cholesterol.

Through further processing, primarily in the gonads and adrenal glands, cholesterol is converted into sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
This simple fact sent my mind reeling in all kind of conspiracy theories and questions. For instance:

• If human sexual hormones come from cholesterol, does that mean that the generalized persecution of cholesterol has the hidden agenda of diminishing our sexuality?
• Is someone diagnosed with high cholesterol by corollary more sexualized?
• Or more to the point: I have borderline high cholesterol, is that why I'm that horny?
How about my aunt Clara, she had high cholesterol too? So did my grandfather. Are they trying to desexualize the Jews?
• Are you thinking right now that I have way too much time in my hands?
• Are you?
• Can the fact that my boobs seem slightly fuller today be attributed to the shampoo I use? (if so, bring it on!)

For many years I was convinced that high cholesterol was an invented disease, created by American puritans to stop other people who know better from enjoying their delicious food. But this scenario is even creepier... what if by reducing cholesterol so much we also reduce our sexual hormones?
Are they trying to make us all into Stepfordian sexless bots?

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