Hi there! Kimberly here!
I wanted to do a post on endocrine disruptors, because they are having such a huge negative impact on our health and yet most of us have never heard of them or realize that we are being exposed to them on a daily basis.
If you know me at all, then you know that I’ve had some serious health issues over the past few years. My body had a complete breakdown in 2012 which left me completely disabled and bedbound. You can read about my health crisis here.
I was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and have been slowly working my way back to health. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’ve learned a few things along the way, and I’d like to share some of those with you.
One of the biggest changes I made was getting rid of many of the toxic chemicals in my environment. I eat an all organic, whole food diet. I make all of my own cleaning supplies. I open the windows to let in fresh air. And, I have completely switched out ALL of my personal care products for safer options or I make my own.
Everyday, I learn something new; and, lately, I’ve been learning more about endocrine disruptors, and the effect that they have on our bodies. And, that’s what I want to share with you!
WHAT DOES THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM DO ANYWAY?
In order to understand endocrine disruptors, you need to know what the endocrine system does. To put it simply, the endocrine system is the collection of glands (thyroid, pineal, pituitary, adrenals, pancreas, etc.) that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood, among other things. So, the endocrine system controls virtually everything.
Professor Anthony Turton of South Africa explains that the endocrine system is like the very basic computer program that controls all of the other complex functions. We have millions and millions of cells that each do very complex things in the body. The hormones tell the cells what to do and control the cells and how they function over time.
So, the endocrine system is really important, because it controls what the cells do in the body!
SO, WHAT ARE ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS?
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are similar in structure to natural sex hormones such as estrogen, thereby interfering with their (the hormone’s) normal functions. Children are at greater risk for adverse effects” because their bodies are much smaller and still developing.
According to a report published by the EWG, “There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies, increasing production of certain hormones, decreasing production of others; imitating hormones, turning one hormone into another, interfering with hormone signaling, telling cells to die prematurely, competing with essential nutrients, binding to essential hormones, and accumulating in organs that produce hormones.” So, wreaking all sorts of havoc in any tissue and system of the body.
SO, WHERE ARE THESE EVIL LITTLE CHEMICALS FOUND?
The short answer is EVERYWHERE! But, more specifically, they are found in:
- common household goods like air fresheners, cleaning supplies, scented candles, even furniture and clothing
- personal care products like deoderants, toothepastes, shampoos, lotions, and cosmetics
- even in our food and water, and might I add – air
So, basically, endocrine disruptors are everwhere!!!
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WORST OFFENDERS?
The EWG put out a list of the top 12 worst endocrine disrupting chemicals. The list includes:
- BPA (plastics),
- Dioxins (fish, meat & dairy),
- Atrazine (pesticide),
- Phthlates (personal care products, vinyl, building materials, medical devices, insecticides, etc),
- Fire Retardants (furniture, bedding, pajamas, etc),
- Heavy Metals – lead, mercury, arsenic and others.
I want to spend a few minutes talking about BPA (Bisphenol A), because it tops the list of damaging endocrine disruptors, and is literally all around us. BPA is an industrial petrochemical that acts as a synthetic estrogen.
It’s found in our plastics and tin can linings and leaches into everything it touches… EVERYTHING! It’s even on cash register receipts! So, do your best to avoid touching these receipts.
Lab tests commissioned by the EWG detected BPA in the umbilical cord blood of 90% of newborns tested along with over 230 other synthetic chemicals.
We can’t totally rid our environment of BPA unless we go live in a commune somewhere away from modern life, but we can become aware of where they are, so that we can minimize our exposure.
If you haven’t already, I recommend switching out all of your plastic cups, containers, water bottles, etc. for glass. It’s not as expensive as you think and much, much safer.
The other offender I wanted to mention is pthalates, another industrial chemical used to make plastics flexible. They are found in everything from food packaging to toys to beauty products like nail polish, hair spray, shampoo, deoderants, and fragrances.
In the Fourteenth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program, Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate is listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”. Other phthalates show concern, because they may adversely affect human reproduction or development.
Just about all personal care products contain phthalates. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of what we’re rubbing on our bodies and our children’s bodies everyday.
They accumulate in the body and over time contribute to serious health issues. So, these things are really bad news! I think it’s so important to be aware of these things, so that we can make safe choices for ourselves and for our families. (Check out safer options here)
WHAT DO THESE ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS DO TO US?
Besides increasing our risk of cancer and heart disease, they can cause early puberty. A New York Times article reported that “… animal studies show that the exposure to some environmental chemicals can cause bodies to mature early.”
Another article by Dr. Mercola stated that early puberty (before age 8) affects 1 In 5000 American children. Early puberty is linked to emotional/behavioral problems along with increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer later in life.
But, the most shocking study I found was out of UC Berkeley where the researchers found that exposure to Atrazine, one of the most widely used pesticides, will turn 1 out of 10 male frogs into females and emasculate 75% of them causing them to be unable to reproduce. Yikes!
The researchers concluded that Atrazine and other endocrine disrupting chemicals are likely contributing to the decline in amphibian populations around the globe.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR US HUMANS?
In South Africa, where there are high levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the water supply, 1 in 2000 children are born as “intersex”, meaning they are born as both male and female.
It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear the story of one person on the video. Research is just beginning on this topic so there is no direct link to endocrine disruptors and intersex children yet, but it does raise the question based on the effect they have on the frogs.
We do know that endocrine disruptors mimic estrogen in the body and can affect male development as well as increase the risk for hormone driven cancers such as breast, ovarian, and prostate.
HOW CAN WE AVOID THESE HARMFUL CHEMICALS?
We can’t!!! But, we can decrease our exposure as much as we can! Here are a few recommendations:
- Buy and eat local, organic produce, free-range meat and eggs
- Store your food in glass containers – toss the plastic
- Super important to use glass baby bottles and BPA-free sippy cups
- Make sure your baby’s toys are BPA free: pacifiers, teething rings, anything your child may put in their mouth
- Use natural and homemade cleaning products
- Switch out your personal care products for safer options here
I believe, the best way to control our exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals is to use safe personal care products. Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs approximately 60% of what we put on it.
The average woman uses 12 products a day and puts on hundreds of chemicals every day. It only takes 26 seconds for something you put on your skin to be absorbed into your bloodstream.
You can join the Deep Healing Cafe Facebook group to get more information about endocrine disruptors. This is where I post articles with information on safe skincare, as well as articles related to all facets of health, and special promotions from Beautycounter. It’s also a great place to ask questions!
I am so passionate about this topic, because I don’t want to see anyone have to go through the health challenges that I’ve had to go through in order to make safer choices. It would truly be my pleasure to help you in any way that I can! So, comment below or contact me HERE!
So, to summarize what we’ve talked about:
- The Endocrine System is made up of glands that produce hormones that tell all of the cells in our body what to do
- Endocrine Disruptors are chemicals in our environment that mimic our own bodies hormones, especially estrogen and can wreak havoc in every tissue and system in our body
- Endocrine Disruptors are found virtually everywhere: in our food, our water, the air we breathe, our homes, and personal care products
- Some of the worst offenders are BPA and Phthalates
- Endocrine Disruptors produce xeno-estrogens or false estrogens that can increase our risks for cancer and heart disease. It has been linked to early puberty, and is suspected to play a huge role in the birth of intersex children in South Africa
- We cannot totally avoid endocrine disruptors, but we can limit our exposure! Eat organic, Toss the plastic, Use glass baby bottles and BPA free toys, use natural cleaning products, and switch out your personal care products for safer choices.
I’d love to hear what you thought about this post! So leave a comment below! I read each and every one! What have you done to limit your exposure to harmful chemicals?