BY CHERYL BIGUS SEPTEMBER 30, 2013
You endocrine system is an information superhighway that regulates your bodily functions. It releases hormone “messengers” through your body’s glands to stimulate and regulate everything your body does to keep you alive.
Understanding endocrine disruptors is a first line to balancing your endocrine system and hormone functions.
What are endocrine disruptors?
Endocrine disruptors and man-made chemicals that alter, mimic or block hormone production or the system that carries them. You can call these external stressors, while your internal stressors that affect the system are rooted in negative emotions, fear, trauma and stress.
Where can endocrine disruptors be found?
You might be surprised at how common they are, and that you’re exposed to them every day. They can be found in:
- common household cleaners
- yard, garden and farm chemicals
- personal care products
- artificial and “natural” flavors in processed food products
- parfum, “natural” fragrance, or anything “unscented.”
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council some of the proven endocrine disruptors include dioxin, PCBs, DDT, and other pesticides.
Some of these disruptors are surprisingly abundant in your internal and home environment. Here are some of the most common ones, along with the products that often contain them:
- Bisphenol: BPA, BPS in plastics and in the lining of canned goods.
- Triclosan: “antibacterial” products that interfere with thyroid hormones.
- Phthalates (DBT, DEHP): haircare products, lotions, some plastic food containers, vinyl.
- Perfluorinated chemicals: Teflon, Gore-Tex, PFOS, PFOA, as well as anything “stain-resistant,” make-up, nail polish and (surprise) dental floss.
- Parabens: butyl-, methyl-, ethyl-, and propyl-parabens act as synthetic estrogen.
- Sodium lauryl sulphates (SLS): a foaming agent in personal care and cleaning products.
- Fluoride: blocks proper absorption of iodine by the thyroid gland as well as affects the pineal, parathyroid and pancreas. It causes dental and skeletal fluorosis.
These are some of the major culprits, and by no means is this a complete list. There are more than 80,000 chemicals and pesticides on the market in the U.S. that have never been tested for safety, and they’re in everything from food packaging to your clothes, your furniture, carpets and cabinetry.
Why should you care?
These chemicals are in the air you breathe and many water supplies in the US. They affect everything in the food chain from plants, fish, birds and the mammals that eat them (that means you).
Even with the EPA in place, there isn’t proper testing done on chemicals to determine toxicity or the effects on the population. The government takes the stance that many of these chemicals are GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) … until proven otherwise.
The general population doesn’t have the resources to prove these chemicals are safe and government feels its a burden that is too much for industry to bear.
What can you do?
Start by getting rid of the plastics in your life and cleaning up your personal care products (including sunscreen) by replacing them with ones that don’t have parabens or SLS. Here are a few other rules of thumb that can help you eliminate some of the worst endocrine disruptors on the market today:
- Don’t buy anything stain-resistant or Teflon.
- Buy fresh or frozen instead of canned. There are a few companies that don’t use BPA-lined cans, such as Muir Glen and Eden Foods.
- If it smells like plastic or vinyl, it’s off-gassing and your body is absorbing that through your skin (your largest organ) and your lungs.
- Don’t purchase or use anything anti-bacterial which are in most personal care products to protect us from germs and microbes. Watch out it is in toothpaste now as well. Plain old fashioned non-detergent soap is good enough to fight most germs.
- Use bamboo cutting boards instead of plastic. They are naturally anti-microbial.
- Use fluoride-free dental products and water that you drink, cook with and bathe in.
- Start swapping out your cleaning and laundry supplies for soaps instead of detergents.
Don’t try to attack this all at once. As you can afford, start replacing things that you use or that you are in contact with the most.