Recently, PETA sent a letter to Drew Cerza, founder of the National Buffalo Wing Festival asking the event to "take steps to ensure the safety of pregnant women" by not allowing them to participate in eating impressive amounts of chicken wings during the annual-wing eating contests. Why? Because the animal rights organization warns that doing so could result in "smaller-than-average penises for newborn boys."
The letter, which can be read in full on the PETA website says:
Findings published by the Study for Future Families showed that eating poultry during pregnancy may lead to smaller penis size in male infants. Looking at dairy products, eggs, fish, fruit, bird meat, potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables, and red meat, researchers found the most significant link between chicken consumption and decreased penis size because of a chemical compound found in the meat. Furthermore, evidence indicates that heterosexual women's sexual satisfaction depends in part on their partner's penis size.
With such an ominous warning floating around, Women's Health decided to do some fact-checking on PETA's claim. Shockingly, because usually PETA is such an unbiased group of not-crazy people, they found that the study the letter refers to didn't actually look at chicken consumption at all. What the study did look at was "how prenatal phthalate exposure affects boys reproductively in a variety of ways, one of which was penis size." The modicum of truth in PETA's statement lies in the fact that boys born to mothers with high levels of phthalate, a chemical found in plastic, did in fact have shorter penises.
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The problem is that research, including a 2009 study from ETH Zurich, has found that avoiding phthalate is pretty much impossible. In fact, the ETH Zurich study found that people who tried to eat the healthiest were exposed to higher levels of the chemical than those who were more passive about their food intake. Still neither group came even close to ingesting dangerous levels of phthalate.
So what's the takeaway?
No, eating chicken wings won't doom your unborn son to a life of bedroom shame and embarrassment. Glad we got that cleared up.