Are we killing ourselves? Probably, but not overnight. No, we are killing ourselves slowly and without even noticing it. Each day we are bombarding our bodies with endocrine disruptors and these chemicals adversely affect important bodily processes. Where do we find these endocrine disruptors – these life sucking chemicals? We find them everywhere because we now live in a toxic environment. It’s impossible to escape endocrine disruptors. That’s how ubiquitous they are. It doesn’t sound hopeful, but there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure to endocrine disruptors and preserve your health.
What are Endocrine Disruptors?
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals. Most are man-made that mimic hormones. Hormones are chemicals naturally produced by the body that govern bodily process – turning some processes on and others off. They are made in glands, make there way into the bloodstream, and exert their effects at some other location in the body.
Hormone are described as keys to a lock. They hook onto a receptor on a cell and in doing so turn a switch on or off. Endocrine disruptors look enough like the real key, and either block hormones from fulfilling their purpose by occupying a receptor, or they turn a process on or off, but at the wrong time creating havoc and disrupting normal biochemical processes. This leads to disruption of the immune system allowing for the development of cancer and affecting our ability to fight infection. It leads to disruption in metabolic processes – how we handle sugar and fat. Plus, hormone disruptors disrupt the sexual and reproductive functions of the body.
Endocrine Disruptors and Disease
Given their diffuse effects on the body, it is likely that endocrine disruptors play a role in the development of all chronic disease. The Endocrine Society has published a lengthy scientific statement on endocrine disruptors. Take a little time and read its findings. The effects of endocrine disruptors on the body is amazing! They cause cancer of the reprodutive tracts (women and men), infertility, endometriosis, precocious puberty, impaired lactation, breast cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and that’s just sexual and reproductive system.
Endocrine disruptors affect thyroid function which regulates our metabolism. They affect the production and function of growth hormone – the body’s main healing and restorative hormone. They affect blood sugar control. The incidence of diabetes has tripled in recent decades. It may not be all diet related though there are endocrine disruptors in the food we eat including antibiotics and hormones given to livestock and poultry.
All of this contributes to obesity and heart disease.
Common Endocrine Disruptors
The more common endocrine disruptors (alphabetically) include:
These disruptors are found in:
- organchlorinated pesticides
- industrial chemicals
- plastics and plasticizers
- personal care/cosmetic products
- food additives
You can go to TEDX or The Endocrine Disruption Exchange and check some of the above categories to find a list of endocrine disruptors in cosmetics or household products, etc.
Women in particular should be careful of their choice in cosmetics and other skin care products. The skin is very good at absorbing nearly anything placed on it including toxins and endocrine disruptors.
You cannot avoid all these endocrine disruptors, but you should minimize your exposure to them as much as possible. You can ward off the harm caused by endocrine disruptors by consuming antioxidants by eating more fruits and vegetables.