THE SCARY WORLD OF ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS
Image from Huffington Post
I want to talk to you about something more science-y today, but it is incredibly important so I hope you’ll stick with me! You have probably heard of BPA by now, as we’ve been told to buy BPA-free water bottles and canned items, after it was linked to everything from hormone-related breast and prostate cancers to polycystic ovarian syndrome and early puberty. The issue has gotten some pretty good press, but the scary thing is… BPA is only one of hundreds of chemicals that can interfere with our hormonal systems and most people have no idea they’re being exposed to them every day.
What the heck are Endocrine Disruptors?
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are chemicals that interfere with our hormone production and delivery. They can increase or decrease the production of certain hormones, imitate hormones, turn one hormone into another, and interfere with hormone signaling. Long story short, they make an enormous and sometimes dangerous mess.
We’re going to get into where we find most of these troublesome chemicals shortly, but I first want to start with why you should care. Endocrine disruptors have been associated with altered reproductive function in both men and women, including infertility, increased incidence of breast cancer, prostate cancer, endometriosis, liver cancer, osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, immune disorders, Parkinson’s symptoms, abnormal growth patterns and neurodevelopment delays in children, as well as other dangerous effects.
Exposure happens through the food we eat, the environment around us, and through the skin, including through the products that we use on our bodies. EDCs can also be transferred from pregnant women to the developing fetus or child through the placenta and breast milk.
Of course, our government should be protecting us from companies using these dangerous chemicals but we know that certainly is not happening in the current administration and with the current head of the EPA. We have to educate ourselves and do our best to protect our families from EDCs.
EWG'S DIRTY DOZEN EDCs + Where they live
Canned foods, thermal paper (receipts), plastics marked with PC or recycling label #7
Animal foods, like dairy, eggs, meat, and fish
Used on majority of corn crops in US and therefore contaminates drinking water
Plastic food containers, plastic wrap with recycling label #3, personal care products
Contaminates water supply
Furniture, old carpeting, children’s carseats, bedding
Old paint, water contamination
Gets into the air and ocean through burning coal, found often in seafood
Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs + PFOAs)
Non-stick pants, stain and water-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture, and carpets
Neurotoxic compounds that the Nazis produced in huge quantities for chemical warfare during WWII were luckily never used. After the war ended, American scientists used the same chemistry to develop a long line of pesticides that target the nervous system of insects. Despite many studies linking organophosphate exposure to effects on brain development, behavior, and fertility, they are still among the more common pesticides in use today.
Solvents in paints, cleaning products, cosmetics
How to can I avoid Endocrine Disruptors?
Avoid buying food that comes in plastic, avoid using plastic wrap, and use glass tupperware at home
Avoid Canned Goods
Look for BPA-free cans but buying food fresh and not in cans is always best
Check out EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists for which foods are the most contaminated and therefore the most important to buy organic
Vacuum and Dust Often, Take off Your Shoes
You track in many pesticides and other EDCs on your shoes, so take off those shoes when entering and clean often!
Buy safe beauty products
Personal care products are loaded with EDCs. Check out EWG’s website ewg.org/skindeep to see how safe your current products are and find some healthier alternatives if needed
Skip non-stick pans or buy healthy ones without PFOAs
Use a cast iron skillet, a pan without non-stick, or check out this brand for a healthier non-stick alternative
Eat fewer animal products and low-mercury fish
Eating fewer animal products means less dioxin, and choose low-mercury seafood like wild salmon, anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, trout, mackerel, sardines, and shrimp
Buy a good water filter
Check out EWG’s buying guide here
Avoid taking receipts that you don’t need
These are lined in BPA which gets into the system through the skin. Especially be careful to not touch a receipt after using the hand sanitizer at the check out! That strips your skin and clears a path for the BPA on the receipt to enter.
Use healthy cleaning products
Check to see how healthy the ones you’re using now are here and find healthier alternatives there if you need
Support legislation and politicians who support organic agriculture and environmental protection!!