People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been known to say some really dumb things from time to time. Here’s another. In a letter to organizers of the National Buffalo Wing Festival, PETA says eating chicken wings could cause a future child to have a smaller penis.
This morning, PETA sent a letter to Drew Cerza, founder of the National Buffalo Wing Festival, with an ominous warning: The latest scientific evidence shows that the sons of pregnant women who consume chicken are more likely to have smaller penises because of a chemical found in the birds’ flesh. And it’s not just boys who are at risk from chicken. Babies, including girls, of mothers who have high cholesterol counts—and chicken is loaded with cholesterol—can be born with blocked arteries.
“Pregnant women may want to think twice before chomping on those chicken wings, or their sons could come up short,” says PETA Associate Director of Campaigns Lindsay Rajt.
The chemicals they refer to are phthalates, but most exposure to them comes from plastic containers, not from food. They’re also found in cosmetic products. Women’s Health magazine debunks PETA’s claim:
The research PETA mentioned from the Study for Future Families didn’t look at chicken consumption at all—it looked at how prenatal phthalate exposure affects boys reproductively in a variety of ways, one of which was penis size. It is true that, according to the Study for Future Families’ research, boys born to moms with the highest levels of phthalate exposure (defined as those in the top 25th percentile) were more likely to have shorter penises than those born to moms with the lowest levels of phthalate exposure (those in the bottom 25th percentile)…
It’s scary, yes, but here’s the thing: You gain exposure to phthalates in lots of ways, such as when you use certain personal care products, when you eat out of plastic containers, and when you consume anything on the list of many, many foods that contain phthalates, says Shanna H. Swan, Ph.D., a professor in the department of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who conducted the research PETA cites. What’s more, chicken doesn’t even rank particularly high on the list of foods containing phthalates (spices are actually at the top of the list, according to one German study). “I think any link between eating buffalo wings—even by pregnant women—and the size of their son’s genitals is very tenuous,” says Swan.
Relax, chicken wing fans. Your penis is safe.