Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are synthetic chemicals found ubiquitously in soil, water and our food supply, as well as in personal care products and consumer goods. These wide-ranging substances include pharmaceutical agents, dioxins, plastics (BPA), phthalates, PCBs, triclosan, artificial fragrances, fungicides, and pesticides. Found in everyday products such as plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, toys, flame retardants, and cosmetics, these harmful chemicals can interfere with hormone biosynthesis, metabolism and reproduction. For humans and wildlife, exposure to these chemicals can potentially result in adverse developmental malformations, interference with reproduction, increased cancer risk, and disturbances in neurological and immune system function.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defined an endocrine disrupting compound as “an exogenous agent that interferes with synthesis, secretion, transport, metabolism, binding action, or elimination of natural blood-borne hormones present in the body that are responsible for homeostasis, reproduction, and developmental process.” Scientific research has found that environmental and inappropriate developmental exposure to ED compounds can alter male and female reproductive function and disrupt the homeostatic and hormonal systems that enable the body’s neurotransmitter and hormone receptors to communicate with and respond to their environment.
Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an Endocrine Society Scientific Statement presented evidence that endocrine disruptors can affect male and female reproduction, breast and prostate cancer, and thyroid, cardiovascular and neuroendocrinology. When hormonal systems critical to health and bodily functions are affected by EDs, it can result in disruptions in bone health, cardiac function, oxidative stress, altered testicular function, and sensory impairment. EDs have been found to disrupt immune function, alter onset of puberty, increase inflammation, and promote obesity through altered metabolism, fat cell signaling, and glucose uptake.
As we become more aware of this public health concern, we can take preventative common sense steps to reduce exposure to EDs and, consequently, reduce the body’s cumulative toxic load:
-Wash your hands frequently, especially before a meal and avoid antibacterial, fragranced, and liquid soap that may contain triclosan or phthalates. Vacuum and dust often to remove traces of chemicals found in household dust.
-Choose fragrance-free products that are just as effective as those that are chemically scented. Air fresheners and petroleum-based scented candles may contain toxins that are harmful to humans and their pets.
-Reduce chemical exposure at home. If you haven’t already done so, as you toss or use up products you already have, replace them with non-toxic personal care and household cleaning products without harmful chemical ingredients.
-Read labels before you buy. Look for safer body and eco-friendly alternatives as much as possible. Use your voice. When enough consumers express their views, manufacturers listen.
-Stay active and eats lots of good quality fiber-filled unrefined foods to help move toxins out of your body. Try to buy foods in as close to their original state as possible. Include detoxifying foods such as beets, artichokes, cabbage and broccoli; herbs such as ginger, basil, and cilantro; and fruits such as apples and lemons. Drink sufficient water to support digestive processes and help flush away toxins.
-Ditch the plastic. Begin to invest in safer containers made of glass, steel, or ceramic. Save and wash glass food jars to use for food storage or transport. Don’t microwave food stored in plastic or styrofoam containers.
-Consume more plant-based meals. Environmental chemicals, heavy metals, and toxins are often found in the greatest concentrations in animal products and seafood.
-Prioritize sleep which is fundamental to support the body’s elimination processes, cellular renewal, and overall good health. Studies suggest that sufficient sleep allows the brain to clear itself of debris and damaging substances associated with neurodegeneration.
– Supplements, such as vitamin c, alpha-lipoic acid, selenium, NAC, chlorella, and milk thistle, support glutathione production and help optimize the detoxification process.
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Endocrine Disruptors. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm
What is Endocrine Disruption? https://www.epa.gov/endocrine-disruption/what-endocrine-disruption
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). http://www.who.int/ceh/risks/cehemerging2/en/
All About Endocrine Disruptors. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-endocrine-disruptors
Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/30/4/293/2355049
9 Ways to Avoid Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/9-ways-avoid-hormone-disrupting-chemicals