Book Review: Count Down

New Book, Count Down, Describes the Deleterious Effects of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

MADE SAFE Advisor Shanna Swan’s new book, Count Down, reflects decades of research and tells the story of “how our modern world is threatening sperm counts, altering male and female reproductive development, and imperiling the future of the human race.” This timely work shares how pervasive endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in our modern society, such as phthalates, BPA, flame retardants, and more, bind to receptor sites where “real” hormones should land, resulting in the mix up of the body’s hormone-driven signals.


As Dr. Swan explains, these EDC “imposter hormones” are not only manipulating the body into misfiring on an occasional basis, but there are also cumulative negative consequences due to the high prevalence of these substances. Mounting evidence suggests that widespread exposure to EDCs is causing notable damage to the reproductive process of humanity at-large. Two noteworthy effects: The decline of male sperm count at a rate of 1% per year (pg. 11), and combined human fertility rates dropping on a global scale by 49% between 1950 and 2017 (pg. 156).

While it is quite sobering to consider these statistics, we humans are not without any hope or agency. The choices we make every day—from the personal care products we use to the food we eat—can impact our level of exposure to EDCs. In Count Down, Dr. Swan provides suggestions on how to reduce harmful habits and lessen the chemical footprint in your own home, such as eating fewer processed foods and never using plastic in the microwave. MADE SAFE’s tips for living less toxic is another great resource for pointers on how to reduce your exposure to EDCs like BPA and flame retardants.

The food we eat, the air we breathe, the products we use, the emotions we feel have the potential to influence not only how our genes are expressed but also how those of our unborn descendants might behave in the future. That’s right—our lifestyles and environments can have ripple effects on the health and development of our unborn children and grandchildren through mechanisms that foster cellular memory and can be maintained across several generations.”  (Swan, pg. 133).

Want to learn more about Count Down and endocrine disrupting chemicals?

SHANNA SWAN, PhD | Author and Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York

Dr. Shanna Swan, an Environmental and Reproductive Epidemiologist, is the author (with Stacey Colino) of Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Health, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race. Since 1998, Dr. Swan’s research team has been conducting multi-center pregnancy cohort studies: the Study for Future Families (SFF) and The Infant Development and the Environment Study (TIDES) to better understand how prenatal and early childhood exposure to stressors, including chemicals commonly found in the environment such as phthalates and bisphenol-A, impact the reproductive health and development of children. Most recently Dr. Swan and colleagues have been studying the ability of pharmaceuticals, such as analgesics, to act as classical endocrine disruptors and impact reproductive tract development and neurodevelopment, potentially interacting with more classical endocrine disruptors. 


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