A view of India Gate hiding in smog as the air quality deteriorates in the national capital with rising of pollutants in the atmosphere, in New Delhi
A view of India Gate hiding in smog as the air quality deteriorates in the national capital with rising of pollutants in the atmosphere, in New Delhi

A leading epidemiologist and environmental scientist has published a book which examines the link between industrial chemicals and penile length.
Dr Shanna Swan's book, Count Down, argues that our modern world is altering humans' reproductive development and threatening the future of our species.


The book outlines how pollution is leading to higher rates of erectile dysfunction, fertility decline, and growing numbers of babies born with small penises. Though the headline fact about shrinkage may sound like a laughing matter, the research paints a bleak portrait of humanity's longevity and ability to survive.

"In some parts of the world, the average twenty-something today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35," Dr Swan writes, dubbing the situation, a "global existential crisis" in the book. “Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc."


Lancet warned in 1989, ' Pollution and unhealthy lifestyle would soon cause a considerable decrease in the number of sperms in the male generative fluid (semen).' Dr Colin R Daniels of the Lancet Editorial Board (LEB) further stated that three types of chemicals, Environmental, Industrial and Food (chemicals) are wreaking havoc with human reproductive health.

Glaring examples

A few glaring examples from our everyday existence will illustrate this phenomenon. Monosodium Glutamate, or Ajina Moto in general parlance, causes migraine and erectile dysfunction among men and frigidity among women (Courtesy, Maryland Cancer and General Hospital Journal, 1995). Ajina Moto is integral to Chinese food.

Now it's conclusively proven that it's carcinogenic and its prolonged use may cause erectile dysfunction and sexual indifference in extreme cases. It's worthwhile to mention that China has its own version of Ajina Moto which's not so pernicious to health, but the rest of the world still uses the old Monosodium Glutamate which China itself did away with in 1983 (courtesy, ' Food Imperialism of the Chinese,' Barrington and A C Bosanquet, 2001).

The tasteless broiler chickens are full of harmful chemicals, like Bridzon and Fernicol, causing testicle cancer among men and cervix cancer among women. Processed meat is yet another dangerous thing that causes sexual apathy among men and women and cancer of pancreas.

Excessive use of air conditioners is causing osteoporosis and brittle bones. It's like the Freon gas of refrigerators that just slows down the process of contamination. In 2015, a WHO medical team analyzed the quality of air in Delhi and NCR and its effect on the people. It found that the polluted air also caused food apathy among the people that led to eating disorders.
Though pollution or pradooshan may be relatively new words in modern scenario, the context is very old.

What does Ayurveda say?

Ayurveda states: Vayudosham, bhojnam iti pratipadye nirmalam ayuvrate (Pure air-Pollution is called Vayudosham in Sanskrit-and clean food help one live longer and in a healthy manner).


In Charak Samhita, there's an invaluable Sanskrit shloka: Anavil vaayu, pavitra khaadyam, titiksham vistar cha jeevansya sootram (Unadulterated air, clean food and salubrious surroundings are the keys to a healthy life).

It's not for nothing that the legendary Hakim Luqman (he wasn't fictional; but did exist) of ancient Arab peninsula would advise the men suffering from getting a hard-on to go to Nakhalistan (oasis) to sexually rejuvenate themselves in pure air and healthy environs: Shad matzat yaq'fahil yaa'n jism ul-anoz ( Clean air makes a man virile and sexually robust).

Arabic sexual manual Lazzatunnisa (called the Kamasutra of Arabs) states that fresh water, clean air and light food are enough for men to stay sexually fit like a horse! What a simple formula to everlasting male sexuality! Alas, we've been ignoring it, much to our peril.

Our wayward lifestyle coupled with declining environs can be adduced as reasons for a legion of ailments we're afflicted with. By the way, according to Dr Swan's research, this disruption is caused by phthalates, chemicals used in plastic manufacturing, which can impact how the functioning of the endocrine glands. This group of chemicals is used to help increase the flexibility of a substance. They can be found in toys, food packaging, detergents, cosmetics, and many more products. Dr Swan believes that these substances are radically harming human development.

It's time to wake up and smell the coffee and understand that if we don't take drastic steps to ameliorate our surroundings, tackle pollution and stop having junk food laced with chemicals, human race will be impotent erelong. On a lighter note, it can be said that since men are too focused on their 'manhood', its shrinkage may certainly egg them on to do something to stem (pun intended) the rot and flaccidity !

- SUMIT PAUL

The writer is an advanced research scholar of Semitic languages, civilizations and cultures.

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