Endocrine Disruptors and Your Health
Endocrine disruptors have been the subject of much debate in recent years. These chemicals are increasingly common in food, water, and consumer products, and many have been linked to some severe health issues. Luckily, it’s possible to greatly reduce your exposure to these potentially harmful substances. Allow us to explain exactly what endocrine disruptors are and how they can negatively affect your family’s health.
What Are Endocrine Disruptors?
Endocrine disruptors are compounds that interfere with the body’s endocrine system. They often do this by either mimicking or blocking hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Some endocrine disruptors are natural, such as plant estrogens found in carrots, garlic, coffee, and apples. However, others come from manmade sources like drugs, plastics, and processed food.
Endocrine disruptors can be found in various manufactured products including food containers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and pharmaceuticals. They’re also common in cosmetics, receipts, cleaning supplies, furniture, carpets and fabrics, and food packaging materials. Exposure to these substances over time may have negative effects on the human body’s hormones and metabolism.
Some of the most common endocrine disruptors include bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, parabens, and triclosan. BPA is often used to make rigid plastic containers and water bottles. Phthalates are common plasticizers used to manufacture plastics, solvents, and some personal care products. Parabens are widely used as artificial preservatives in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, and triclosan is an antibacterial chemical present in some soaps, lotions, detergents, and deodorants.
The Effects of Endocrine Disruptors on Human Health
It’s difficult to study the effects of any single endocrine disruptor. This is because several are often found together in our modern environments. However, some endocrine disruptors may contribute to symptoms associated with asthma, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), fertility issues, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
There’s also evidence linking them to certain hormone-dependent cancers like breast cancer or prostate cancer. Additionally, endocrine disruptor exposure has been correlated with thyroid dysfunction. For example, one study showed that BPA can impair thyroid hormone action by obstructing T3 binding and reducing transcriptional activity. Endocrine disruptors may also contribute to precocious puberty in children by altering hormone production.
It’s important to note that not all exposures result in adverse health effects. There’s still much research being conducted into how exactly these chemicals work within our bodies. However, it’s always best to practice caution when it comes to exposure from plastics and other chemical-laden products, especially in children and during pregnancy.
How to Reduce Your Exposure
The best way to reduce your exposure is by avoiding products known to harbor these chemicals such as plastic water bottles and canned foods with BPA linings. It’s also important to stay informed about new research into endocrine disrupting chemicals so you can make informed decisions about the products you use in your home. Here are some common ways to reduce your family’s exposure to endocrine disruptors.
- Always filter your drinking water.
- Choose glass containers over plastic.
- Buy organic meat options, if possible.
- Choose fresh organic produce over canned varieties.
- Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers.
- Only buy wild-caught fish from sustainable sources.
- Avoid artificial air fresheners and strong perfumes.
- Launder clothes using cold water whenever possible.
- Use natural beauty products instead of synthetic ones.
- Choose natural cleaning products over synthetic ones.
- Switch out Teflon cookware for ceramic or stainless-steel alternatives.
- Choose products that are “BPA-free,” “phthalate free,” or “paraben free.”
- Buy furniture made from natural materials rather than those containing flame retardants.
Avoid Endocrine Disruptors
Endocrine disruptors are everywhere, but the jury is still out on their potential negative health effects. However, a growing body of evidence suggests some of them may interfere with the healthy regulation of essential hormones. That’s why we recommend limiting your exposure as much as possible.
Those suffering from hormone imbalance for various reasons often benefit from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. If you have any questions about endocrine disruptors or how to avoid them, then please don’t hesitate to reach out today. We’ll gladly meet with you for a free initial consultation at your convenience.