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The mayor of a small Peruvian town is concerned mineral levels in the village water supply could lead to an increase in homosexuality among residents.
José Benítez, the mayor of Huarmey, a coastal town in the Ancash Region of Peru, made the bizarre comment recently at the launch of a local project designed to increase access to water.
Huarmey is famous for its abundant shrimp and long beaches, but the mayor has become concerned it may gain a different sort of reputation due to high levels of strontium in the tap water, LGBT Asylum News reports.
The mineral, he claimed, reduces male hormones thus causing an increase in homosexuality among the population. The water comes from Tabalosos, a neighboring town that in 2000, a Lima-based television station infamously said was inhabited by 14,000 exclusively-gay men.
“Unfortunately strontium reduces male hormones and suddenly we’ll be as Tabalosos, as other towns, where the percentages are increasing of homosexuality,” Benitez is quoted as saying. “Young people have low self-esteem by this stigma.”
Dr. Robert Castro Rodriguez, dean of the College of Pharmaceutical Chemistry of Lima, quickly dismissed Benitez's claims, telling Peruvian radio that large amounts of strontium in the body eventually lead to bone cancer, anemia and cardiovascular complications –- but not homosexuality.
Strontium is a natural occurring mineral so chemically similar to calcium that the human body absorbs it into the bone as if it were calcium. Stable forms of strontium might not pose a significant health threat — in fact, may be beneficial, however naturally occurring strontium can also be radioactive leading to various bone disorders and diseases, including bone cancer, according to various studies.
One such study found strontium ranelate, a drug made by combining the mineral with ranelic acid aided bone growth and increased bone density by 12 percent, thus reducing back and hip fractures in post-menopausal women using the drug.