Wednesday, April 08, 2015

"Living Downstream" documents the work of cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, and presents startling research on how some chemicals "feminize" animals


The documentary “Living Downstream” (2010), by Chanda Chevannes, presents the life and work of Sandra Steingraber, based on her book.  The author had survived a slow-growing bladder cancer which she suspected was related to carcinogens in the Illinois river near where she grew up.

The film documents a number of famous cancer clusters in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and the Midwest.  I can remember there were bizarre clusters of Hodgkin’s Disease in the late 1970s (oddly prescient of AIDS), as well of other clusters of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas (when tend to be deadlier), and various other tumors, especially bladder and breast.
  
It also documents the results of experiments with some pesticides and other chemicals on amphibians, which can turn male tadpoles into females, which grow up to become hermaphrodites. They even have “children” who are bi-sexed, in a crude parody of human gay relationships or gender identity issues.  Some pollutants tend to convert androgens into estrogens, which result in feminization and increase chances of breast cancer (even in men). 

Steingraber  (website) also describes what it is like to be in medical limbo, going back for repeated tests because of “abnormal cells”.
   
   
The official site is here

The film can be watched on Netflix instant play. 

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