Endocrine disruptors are natural and man-made compounds that can interfere with hormone function and cause adverse health problems. Your endocrine system is responsible for regulating and creating hormones that affect the nervous system, the reproductive system, the digestive system, your thyroid, and even your response to stress. The endocrine system is very sensitive and even small amounts of exposure to endocrine disruptors can cause problems, which include obesity, endometriosis, infertility, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Endocrine disruptors cause these problems by mimicking hormones causing overstimulation, binding to receptors and blocking hormones, or altering the way hormones are made and controlled. They are found in many common products including plastic bottles, detergents, and cosmetics. Even though endocrine disruptors are so common, you can limit your exposure by being aware of all the sources.
One of the more well-known endocrine disruptors is BPA. BPA stands for Bisphenol A, and it is found in the linings of canned foods, plastics, and even receipts. The pervasiveness of BPA is a problem because it imitates estrogen and has been linked to reproductive problems, breast cancer, early puberty, and even heart disease. It is so common that it is estimated that 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their body. Although it is found in so many products, you can limit your exposure by buying BPA free cans, using glass water bottles, and never storing your food in plastic containers.
Produced during industrial processes, dioxin is an endocrine disruptor that affects male and female hormones. It also affects the immune system and is carcinogenic. Because they are an industrial waste product, dioxins are found everywhere. However, they are most concentrated in meat, fish, milk, eggs, and butter. Essentially, all animal products have higher levels of dioxins. To limit your exposure to dioxins, you should cut back on your meat consumption since dioxin is stored in animal fat.
Atrazine is a very toxic herbicide. It has such strong effects on reproductive hormones that it has literally turned male frogs into females. In humans atrazine has been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty, and prostate cancer. It is widely used in corn crops and is even found in drinking water. The best way to avoid atrazine is to purchase organic produce and use a water filter that removes atrazine. Fortunately, commonly found water filters like Brita and Pϋr remove atrazine.
Like BPA, phthalates are endocrine disruptors that many people are aware of. Phthalates are so powerful that they can trigger cell death in testicular cells. This results in low sperm count and birth defects in the male reproductive system. Phthalates can even cause thyroid irregularities. They are found in food containers, plastic wrap, and even personal care products. The best way to limit your exposure to phthalates is to read ingredient labels and avoid any products that contain them.
Perchlorate is a compound that is found in rocket fuel. It can also be found in produce, water, and milk. Perchlorate competes with iodine absorption, which can be problematic for thyroid hormones. Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones, and without enough you can develop thyroid problems. The only way to reduce perchlorate exposure is to use a reverse osmosis water filter. However, even if you do use a reverse osmosis water filter, perchlorate exposure can be fairly high. Therefore, you should make sure that you get enough iodine in your diet to counteract perchlorate exposure.
6. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
PFCs are used in non-stick coatings and are found in non-stick cook wear and water resistant coatings on clothing, furniture, and carpets. Exposure to PFCs is so common that approximately 99 percent of Americans have PFCs in their bodies. These common endocrine disruptors are linked to low birth weight, kidney disease, thyroid disease, and high cholesterol. One of the best ways to decrease exposure to PFCs is to stop using non-stick pans and start using some of the newer pans such as Orgreenic that don’t have PFCs.
7. Organophosphate Pesticides
Organophosphate pesticides target the nervous system of insects, but they can have an impact on human health as well. These pesticides effect brain development, behavior, and fertility. They also decrease testosterone levels and alter thyroid hormone levels. Because organophosphate pesticides are frequently used, they only way to limit exposure is to eat organic produce.
Endocrine disruptors can have a large impact on health, and researchers are continuing to discover just how problematic they can be. Although it is impossible to stay away from all endocrine disruptors, you can reduce your exposure by being diligent about the products you purchase. Fortunately, with more and more information coming out about endocrine disruptors, it is becoming easier to find products that are free from these harmful chemicals. Do try to limit your exposure to endocrine disruptors?