7 Endocrine Disruptors You Need to Know About

In the quest to live a healthier lifestyle, there are many things we can add and remove from our routines. For the former, think about lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and relaxing activities like meditation and journaling. In terms of the latter, we should limit foods such as ultra-processed foods, unproductive outlets for stress management, and exposure to chemicals and products that can derail our health and well-being. On this last point, endocrine disruptors are one of those culprits we should avoid…especially considering their potential health risks and the prevalence of these chemicals.

Below, discover the ins and outs of endocrine disruptors, including what exactly they are, how they can negatively affect your health, and where to look for them. Plus: How to reduce your exposure starting today.

What are endocrine disruptors?

As their name suggests, endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system. As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ExplainThis important system is made up of the body’s hormones and has the task of regulating biological processes such as:

  • Development of the brain and nervous system.
  • reproductive function
  • Metabolism and regulation of blood sugar.

When endocrine disruptors, also known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), interact with the endocrine system, a variety of health problems can occur. “These chemicals can mimic hormones when they enter our body and interfere with the [normal] hormone production and regulation,” says a certified family doctor Laura Purdy, MD. As it continues, this can result in developmental difficulties, reproductive problems, and a variety of other health problems.

7 endocrine disruptors to avoid

Unfortunately, endocrine disruptors exist on what seems like almost every corner…even in some surprising places. “They are found in the products we use every day, including our food, food storage, household products, plastics, skin care, cosmetics, detergents and toys,” shares the Dr. Purdy.

In other words, you can be exposed to them depending on what you touch, taste, and inhale, and sometimes this exposure is out of your control.

Here are some of the most ubiquitous endocrine disruptors, with tips to avoid or minimize your exposure:

1. Bisphenol A (BPA)

You may have seen certain products labeled BPA-free, perhaps not fully knowing what that means, but having a vague feeling that it is less harmful to you. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a harmful chemical used in plastic, which Dr. Purdy says is found in everything from plastic serving utensils to plastic toys. Also exists in some canned foods and beverages, jar lids, and bottle caps. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), BPA has the potential to cause or contribute to the risk of:

  • Learning and behavior problems.
  • Fertility problems
  • Abnormalities of the brain, heart and nervous system.
  • Diabetes

Advice: Invest in BPA-free containers and look for this legend on other plastic products. “Switching to glass instead of plastic where possible is a quick fix,” adds Dr. Purdy.

2. phthalates

Phthalates are another endocrine disruptor you’ve probably heard of. “Phthalates are also found in plastics and even cosmetic products like nail polish and hairspray,” says Dr. Purdy. for review 2021 In the diary Health careChronic exposure to phthalates is associated with adverse effects related to:

  • Pregnancy success
  • Child growth and development.
  • Reproductive function and health.

Advice: When purchasing cosmetics and personal care products, prioritize phthalate-free options.

3. Dioxins

According to the EPA, dioxins are resistant to breaking down and therefore accumulating in the environment and in our food chains. These highly toxic EDCs increase the risk of:

  • Reproductive and developmental problems
  • Damage to the immune system
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Cancer

“Dioxins can be found in the animal products we consume, such as eggs, meat, milk and butter,” adds Dr. Purdy.

Advice: The EPA notes that more than 90 percent of dioxin exposure is due to ingesting animal fats. To minimize your risk, Dr. Purdy recommends eating lean meat and/or cutting fat from animal proteins whenever possible, in addition to eating a healthy, varied diet.

4. Pesticides

Pesticides are another family of endocrine disruptors that are likely to end up on your plate. While pesticides (such as atrazine) deter the growth of pests and fungi on crops, they pose their own risks. Depending on the level of exposure and toxicity of a given pesticide, possible health problems include but are not limited to:

  • Headache
  • Skin and eye irritation.
  • Nausea
  • neurological problems
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Allergic reactions
  • Dysfunction in the reproductive organs (such as ovarian cysts and fertility problems)

Advice: To minimize exposure to pesticides, Dr. Purdy recommends washing produce thoroughly and purchasing organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

5. heavy metals

While you may enjoy heavy metal as a musical genre, you’ll definitely want to mute it on the endocrine disruption front. “Lead and mercury can be found in our everyday environments, such as in soil,” and therefore in our food and water, says Dr. Purdy… but that’s not all. According to the Campaign for Safe CosmeticsHeavy metals, including lead, mercury, iron, nickel, chromium, zinc and cadmium, are found in countless personal care products, such as:

  • Hydrating creams
  • sunscreen
  • Nail polish
  • Lipstick
  • Foundation and concealer
  • Blush
  • Whitening toothpastes
Endocrine disruptors

Some metals, such as iron and zinc, play important roles in the body. Others, such as lead and mercury, are non-essential and potentially toxic. In any case, an excess of heavy metals in the body is linked to adverse effects on the immune, reproductive and nervous systems.

Advice: Be aware of the amount of foods you eat that come into contact with metal (such as canned foods) or absorbs it easily (such as rice and some types of fish). When it comes to skincare and makeup, look for clean beauty brands that don’t use metals or other EDCs in their products.

An extra tip: Incorporate HUM’s Hormone Balance into your supplement routine, daily

6. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

“Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) can be found in cookware, specifically non-stick cookware. [pots and pans]” says Dr. Purdy. According to the EPA, PFCs repel water and oil, which is why they are commonly used in kitchen utensils, as well as in some paper packaging, carpets, leather products, and some textiles. Microwave popcorn bags are another source of exposure to PFCs, although people can also be exposed to them through meat, dairy, and even household dust.

He Notes from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences That more research in humans is necessary to analyze the specific dangers of exposure, since current data are conflicting about its health risks. However, animal studies show that some PFCs can:

  • Cause endocrine disruption
  • Impede immune function
  • It negatively affects the liver and pancreas.
  • Cause development problems.

Advice: Dr. Purdy suggests investing in nonstick pans for cooking. Additionally, remove dust from your home as much as possible through regular cleaning and keep an air purifier in the rooms where you spend the most time.

7. Synthetic fragrance

While certain aromas may be pleasant to the nose, some fragrances can be anything but pleasant to the health. The term “fragrance” in products (ranging from skin care, deodorants and perfumes to household cleaning fluids) is basically a pocket name for all kinds of endocrine disruptors, including phthalates, heavy metals and parabens. for 2017 review In the diary Medical hypothesesThe chemicals that make up synthetic fragrances “run parallel with unprecedented rates of diabetes, cancer, [and] neuronal ailments”, among other health problems.

Advice: To reduce your exposure to a variety of EDCs, Dr. Purdy recommends not using fragrances in both your beauty product purchases and household cleaning products.

The conclusion on endocrine disruptors

Unfortunately, endocrine disruptors exist in everything from the food we eat and the products we buy to even the air we breathe. While this may be cause for concern, it’s not exactly cause for outright panic. Some forms of exposure may be outside your immediate control, but you have authority over others. “Limiting this exposure starts with you and making overall changes to your personal lifestyle,” says Dr. Purdy.

A good starting point, he continues, is to make small changes, such as avoiding plastics whenever possible and reading labels diligently. Additionally, you don’t need to throw away all canned food, plastic food containers, non-“clean” skin care products, and the like right now. Instead, you’ll gradually be able to make smarter decisions and healthier purchases in the future. “More exposure means more risk, especially when looked at over time,” Dr. Purdy concludes. “It is best to limit this exposure as best we can and control what is within our control and what is important to you.”

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