Redbook Claims “Silent Killers” are Everywhere!

In a recent article, Redbook writer Jen Jones Donatelli details her quest to keep up with “the latest ‘silent killers’”—chemicals used in everyday products that are considered endocrine disrupters. (Endocrine disrupters are natural or synthetic substances suspected of mimicking or altering hormones like estrogen in our bodies.) But rather than turning to a knowledgeable doctor or scientist, Donatelli’s article relies on the fact-less opinions of a “holistic nurse.”

Jennifer Schmid, the CA-based holistic nurse interviewed by Donatelli, makes some flat out incorrect claims about bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, saying they can “have a detrimental effect on fetuses and can cause birth defects and miscarriages.” Instead, she encourages women to avoid possible endocrine disrupters by “saying ‘no’ to plastic,” “handling receipts with care,” “going organic,” and “drinking filtered water.”

The fact is there’s no evidence that handling a receipt or using plastic has any impact on fertility. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Food Safety Authority both recently examined the extensive research on BPA (the chemical used in many receipts and plastic containers) and determined that exposure levels are so low that BPA is safe for all populations, including pregnant women.

BPA isn’t really much of an endocrine disrupter; studies have shown that soy (a common ingredient in many foods) is 1,000 to 10,000 more potent as a synthetic estrogen compared to chemicals like BPA.

As far as going organic—it’s a common misconception that organic foods and other crops are pesticide-free. However, as University of California-Davis toxicologist Carl Winter points out: “the Environmental Protection Agency, working from animal research and factoring in the special sensitivities of human subgroups such as babies and children, has found that lifetime risk of adverse health effects due to low-level exposure to pesticide residue through consumption of produce is ‘far below even minimal health concerns, even over a lifetime.’”


Redbook has over two million subscribers and reaches many more through newsstand purchases and online reading. Many of the magazine’s readers are women considering pregnancy, pregnant, or dealing with fertility issues. Scaring these women about the safety of handling a store receipt or drinking out of a plastic water bottle, without citing any actual research or scientific experts to back up those claims, is flat out irresponsible.