We are surrounded by products containing endocrine disruptors, but what does that mean?
Endocrine disruptors are chemical or toxins that affect the human (and often animal) endocrine system, typically by mimicking hormones and disrupting hormone function. Hormones are one of the body’s essential messenger systems and are responsible for triggering some of our most transformative processes, including growth, puberty, and reproduction. Endocrine disruptors can affect hormone levels and hormone production, wreaking havoc on the body, which takes shape in acne break outs, depression, painful menstrual cycles, and infertility.
Endocrine disruptors usually affect development and reproduction and can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and changes in the brain and immune system, as well. Endocrine disruptors are found in many everyday products, such as plastic bottles and food containers, the lining of metal food cans, toys, food, cosmetics, receipts, detergents, and pesticides. Because we are exposed to so many different kinds of endocrine disruptors everyday its hard to study their overall affects on our health, making long-term health consequences unclear. What is clear is that these unnatural chemicals harm our health, the health of wildlife, and the environment, as well as contaminating our food and water supply.
For the next three weeks, we’ll be highlighting the nine major endocrine disruptors, which are:
We’ll also tell you how they affect our health, what these chemicals are found in and on, and how to avoid them in your day-to-day life. Today we’re gonna look at the first three in this three-part series.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in plastics that mimics the hormone estrogen, interacting with estrogen receptors and contributing to cancer development and progression. Exposure to BPA has been linked to breast, prostate, and other hormone associated cancers. BPA has been replaced in many plastics with BPS and BPF, but scientist are discovering these chemicals may be just as bad.
BPA is commonly found in, water bottles, plastic food containers, receipt paper, coating inside metal food cans, water supply lines, used in some dental and composite sealants.
How to avoid:
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned.
Don’t take receipts of minimize handling them.
Look for BPA-free labels on cans and bottles.
Ask your dentist about BPAs before having dental work done.
Atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor and one of the most used herbicides in the United States, used mainly to control grasses and broadleaf weeds. Approximately 80 million pounds of Atrazine are used in the US alone. Atrazine leeches into the soil and drinking water and it toxic to wildlife. IN 2004 it was banned from the European Union but continues to be widely used in US.
Atrazine exposure has been linked to tumors: breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers in women; and prostate cancers in men. It has been linked to delayed puberty and other developmental and reproductive problems. A study from 2011 found that atrazine “demasculinizes” and “feminizes” vertebrate male gonads.
Atrazine is commonly found on corn, sorghum, sugarcane, macadamia nuts, guava, residential lawns, and along the sides of roads and railroads.
How to Avoid:
Buy organic fruits and vegetables.
Get a water filter that’s certified to remove atrazine, such as the Black Berkey Water Filter.
Grow as much of your food as possible using clean water to avoid herbicides and pesticides.
Avoid using pesticides and herbicides on your lawn and garden.
Phthalates have been linked to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities. Phthalates have also demonstrated the ability to trigger death-inducing signaling in testicular cells, making cells in the testicles die sooner than they should.
Phthalates are commonly found in plastic food containers, children’s toys, plastic wrap made with PVC (this has the recycling label No. 3), some personal care products, and nearly anything with added fragrance, especially if it’s just labeled “fragrance”.
How to Avoid:
Carefully read labels on children’s toys and opt for more natural materials such as wood and fabric instead of plastics.
Avoid plastic wrap.
Use natural personal care products, make your own, or carefully read labels.
Avoid any product with fragrance, as most of them are loaded with toxic chemicals. You can make your own room sprays by using 8 ounces of distilled/filtered water in a glass spray bottle and 20-40 drops of your favorite essential oils.
Next week we'll tackle three more endocrine disruptors that are present in our everyday lives.