Every day, you are exposed to specific chemicals in your environment, and it can affect the hormones in your body. These chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors.
It can interfere with the reproduction and development of a human being. It can cause serious immune system and neurological effects.
Nowadays, these chemicals are used in your homes, offices, and other public places and its usefulness can sometimes be problematic. It is found in cleaning products, personal care, cookware, and even food.
This article aims to discuss what do endocrine disruptors do in the body, what some of its sources are, and how to avoid or minimize its effects on the body.
Effects of Endocrine Disruptors
The endocrine system can be able to release body hormones through its glands. These hormones are like chemical messengers in the body once released.
Meanwhile, the endocrine disruptors can copy and bind the hormone as well as the receptors. These are tiny objects but it can have a massive influence on your health.
It can create a powerful, less powerful, or a totally different response from the original hormone. Furthermore, endocrine disruptors can change the synthesis of hormone, binding, and transport.
Endocrine disruptors are stable and breaking down it can be challenging. It sticks around in the air, water, soil, and even the bodies for a long period of time.
The hormonal system of the body is essential to the overall function and health. If the endocrine disruptors modify it, one can be prone to stress, social problems, and sensory issues, and can experience early onset of menarche.
Also, endocrine disruptors can cause an altered testicular function, and it can even suppress the testosterone synthesis especially in men.
It can alter the conversion of cholesterol to steroid hormones, make one obese, alter the onset of puberty, and even disrupt one’s immune system.
Top Endocrine Disruptors
Here are some of the common endocrine disruptors and its sources in the products that you should avoid:
Arsenic can be found naturally in the crust of the Earth and can be released through industrial and mining activities and be incorporated into the water sources.
When one is exposed to arsenic, he can possibly have insulin resistance, suppression of the immune system, damage in the cardiovascular organs, weight gain or loss, and slow development of cognition, especially to children.
BPA is everywhere: it is in plastic drinking bottles, food cans, smartphone protectors, printed receipts, and water pipes inside the house. The skin can absorb the chemical through skin contact.
According to studies, almost 93% of Americans have BPA detected in their bodies. It is linked to being one of the causes of breast cancer, early onset of puberty, obesity, problems in the reproductive system, and cardiovascular diseases.
Dioxin is a byproduct of many industrial processes, and the US government has recognized it as an endocrine disruptor.
It can cause heart disease, reduced fertility, diabetes, low sperm count, poor sperm activity, miscarriage especially to pregnant mothers, and interference on the embryo development.
Dioxin can be found in meat and other food products. It can accumulate in fats and can remain for many years.
The Ethynylestradiol is a synthetic form of estrogen, and it remains active even if you take it orally. The United States government has acknowledged its effects, but still, you can find this synthetic hormone in all forms of oral birth control nowadays.
According to research done by the experts, this can cause cell proliferation and even breast cancer in the long run.
Fire Retardants (PBDEs)
The Polybrominated Diethyl Ethers (PBDEs) can affect the function of the thyroid by blocking the uptake of the iodine. Eventually, the PBDEs can take the place of the thyroid in the body.
PBDEs is linked in causing a lower IQ. Also, it can affect the physical and neural development of infants and children.
Mercury is another toxic chemical which is extremely dangerous to mothers and their babies. This chemical can be found in seafood, CFL light bulbs, and other products inside the home.
Studies show that mercury can bind with a hormone which is important in ovulation and menstruation.
Furthermore, mercury can also attack the pancreas and affect the production of insulin.
Some of the farmers nowadays spray this kind of pesticide to kill the pests on their produce. As such, the consumers can take the residue of the pesticides when they eat the fruits and vegetables from the farm.
Studies show that organophosphate pesticides can cause infertility among men. Whereas, this endocrine disruptor can affect the children and even upset the function of the thyroid among the adults.
Perchlorate can be found in fertilizers, fuel, fireworks, and explosives and it can bring negative effects to the thyroid function. It can replace the iodine in the thyroid, just like the PBDEs and it can cause a decrease in the thyroid activity.
Some of the symptoms of decrease in thyroid activity include depression, sudden weight gain, and poor energy. Meanwhile, the highest concentration of perchlorate can be found in water.
Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
According to studies, about 99% of Americans have accumulated PFC in their bodies. The Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) are commonly used by companies to make non-stick pans.
When pans such as these are used in cooking, the chemicals escape from it and it goes into the food, and the bodies accumulate it.
PFCs can affect the hormone function especially PFOAs and PFHxS and produce low thyroid hormone levels. Studies have found out that it can also cause ineffective sperm count, high cholesterol, heart disease, thyroid problems, and low birth-weight, especially to infants.
Plastics are added with Phthalates to make them flexible and durable. Various research groups around the world have constantly reported its negative health effects to people for many years.
For example, the phthalates can cause leaching into the bottled water and contaminate it.
Indeed, phthalates can inhibit the development of the sperm cell. It can also be the cause of obesity, thyroid problems, and diabetes.
Ways on How to Avoid Endocrine Disruptors
Indeed, eliminating endocrine disruptors in the society today is a bit challenging. The most that you can do is to follow measures to minimize its effects on your body. Here are some of the methods on how to do it:
Clean your House Regularly
Clean your house daily and reduce exposure to lead, fluorinated chemicals, and phthalates. Flame-retardant chemicals can escape from couches, baby products, and electronics. Thus, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter that can trap small particles of dust instead of allowing it to scatter around the house.
While cleaning, some may introduce indoor air pollutants with the use of harsh chemical products. It is challenging and almost impossible to know what kind of chemicals are in these things you buy.
To know what kind of ingredients are in these goods, always read the label. Make sure that it has the “Safer Choice” label which means that the company has disclosed the ingredients in it. Finally, you can also make homemade cleaners such as one made from borax, baking soda, and vinegar.
Eliminate the Use of Canned Goods
Cans contain BPA to prevent them from corroding. BPA can disrupt the body’s functions, thus, the best way to prevent this from happening is to choose fresh foods available in the local stores.
You can also opt for products that are packed in glass or cartons, than those that are canned.
Always buy organic fruits and vegetables that are free from the spray of pesticides. Aside from switching to a healthy lifestyle, buying organic will also enable you to support small-time farmers in the community.
If you have a tight budget, choose conventionally grown foods that contain the least amount of chemicals on it.
Install a Water Filter
You must filter the water that you drink from your tap or another source. Also, whenever you take a shower/ bath, you can install a high-quality filtration system so you will be protected. Install a water filter that removes perchlorate and arsenic.
One of the water filter products that you can try is the Royal Berkey 3.25 Gallon Water Filter Special Set with 2 Black Elements and 2 Flouride Filters. This water filter can remove 9.99% of pathogens in the drinking water inside the home.
The Royal Berkey can remove and reduce the following elements in the water:
- 99.9% of Flouride
- 99.9 % of Viruses
- 99.9 % of Lead
- 99.9% of Arsenic
- 99.9 % of Iron
- 99.9 % of Mercury
- 99.9% of Chlorine
- 99.8 % of Trihalomethane (THMs)
- 99.9% of Bisphenol A
- 99.9% of Chloramines
- 99.9% of Pesticides
- 97.0% of Uranium
- 99.9% of Petroleum Contaminants
- 98.7% of Gross Alpha Emitters
- 99.9% of Atrazine
- 99.9% of Coliform and e-Coli
Minimize the Use of Plastics
Plastics contain hormone-disrupting chemicals such as BPA and phthalates. According to studies, even a low dosage of exposure of the body to such chemicals can be significant.
Nowadays, plastics are everywhere, and you can’t just eliminate everything. However, there are steps to take to eradicate its usage.
For example, you can swap the use of plastic containers in storing food and beverage with stainless steel or even glass. Replace plastic bags with reusable lunch box and plastic cling wrap with the beeswax-coated cloth.
In toys for your children, you can have hardwood blocks or dolls made of cotton than buying plastic ones.
Finally, research products in the market and check if there are any alternatives available before buying the plastic one.
Opt for a Fragrance-Free Product
Perfumes, colognes, and other similar products contain phthalates which can disrupt the hormones in the body.
Companies incorporate fragrance label on their product, however, it is just a marketing style to encourage consumers to patronize the products. A fragrance is not necessary to make a product effective.
It is best if you will opt for fragrance-free supplies such as personal care, laundry, or cleaning agents.
If you wish to make your rooms smelling fresh and clean, you can open the doors and windows or use a fan. You can empty the trash cans and litter boxes instead of using air deodorants. Also, you can put fresh flowers of plants inside your home or office or put an open box of baking soda in your fridge.
Recheck Health Products for your Children
Your children don’t need excessive cosmetics and healthcare products, even if there are tons of kid-related moisturizers, soaps, and perfumes available in the market today.
These products can only contain various endocrine disruptors which can soon be the cause of skin irritation, asthma, and allergies.
Children might find these products smooth and good-smelling which are irresistible, but just don’t buy these products and leave that baby skin as is.
In sum, the fewer products you use for your baby, the better. You can also check the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for the complete list of recommended lotions, soaps, and sunscreens for your children.
Use Homemade Beauty Products
Switch to homemade or natural personal hygiene products to avoid your exposure to endocrine disruptors. Choose products that do not contain chemicals, and you can buy this at your local stores. You can also cut down your daily use of these products if possible.
Wash your Hands Often
Before and after eating, make it a habit to wash your hands. Wash it after doing the laundry, cleaning the house, or whatever hard work/ chores you do inside your home. Also, avoid using antibacterial or fragranced soaps and opt for an all-natural product.
Watch How You Eat
Eat food that is as close to the whole as possible, for example, go for whole roasted chicken than processed chicken nuggets. Also, take foods that are rich in iodine to help maintain the regular function of your thyroid glands.
If possible, avoid packaged/ processed foods. Finally, consider how the food is prepared. Your non-stick pans and pots can contain endocrine disruptors. Thus, cook on cast iron or stainless steel instead.
In sum, the society nowadays is bombarded with endocrine disruptors due to the various products available in the market. Many are still unaware of the negative effects of such chemicals that’s why they keep on buying it since it helps them in their everyday lives.
Indeed, totally eliminating the use of these products is impossible. But what you can do the most is to minimize and be responsible for its usage.
Wash your hands regularly, eat organic foods, minimize the use of plastic, and always read the product labels. Don’t use excessive personal care products for pregnant moms and infants since they have sensitive skin and immune system. This way, you can protect yourself and your family and prevent health issues in the end.