Endocrine disruptors wreak havoc on our bodies: mimicking, blocking and interfering with hormones and their production, modifying the body's sensitivity to hormones, telling cells to die prematurely, competing with essential nutrients, binding to essential hormones and accumulating in organs.
What Is the Endocrine System?
The endocrine system controls and regulates activities in the body by secreting hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones bring information to cells and help maintain whole-body balance or homeostasis. Hormones regulate everything from your reproductive processes to your metabolic functions. The endocrine system is made up of glands and each gland is responsible for producing different hormones.
The major endocrine glands include your:
Gonads (testicles and ovaries)
COMMON ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS:
BPA is a chemical that’s added to many commercial products. It was first discovered in the 1950s and is now commonly mixed with other chemical compounds to make strong plastics. BPA can trick the body into thinking it’s estrogen and has been linked to the proliferation of breast cancer cells, obesity, heart disease, and early puberty onset. Symptoms of imbalanced estrogens in women can include breast tenderness, PMS mood changes, and abnormal menses. Symptoms of imbalanced estrogen in men can manifest as libido changes, effects on body composition, and poor mood.
How to avoid BPA: When possible, eat fresh foods rather than canned foods. Use only BPA-free plastics & packaging. Avoid touching too many receipts as these contain BPA. Also, when possible, avoid plastics labelled "PC" for polycarbonate or with recycling label #7, since many of these plastics contain BPA (though not all).
Dioxins are environmental pollutants. They form during many industrial processes when chlorine or bromine are burned in the presence of carbon and oxygen. They have a highly toxic and once dioxins enter the body, they’re absorbed and stored in fat tissue. Disturbingly, they have a half-life estimated to be 7 to 11 years. This means they stick around for a long time.
Dioxins disrupt the delicate ways that both male and female sex hormones communicate in the body. They are powerful carcinogens and can also affect the immune and reproductive health and have been linked to a number of diseases and disorders, such as lower sperm count in men, low psychomotor scores in babies in utero and cancer.
How to avoid dioxins: Factory-produced meat, fish, milk, eggs, and butter are most likely to be contaminated, so you can cut down on your exposure by eating plenty of organic fruit and vegetables and grass-fed organic meats.
Atrazine is an herbicide product widely used on corn crops, because of this reason it’s also a contaminant of drinking water. Exposure to atrazine can have a huge effect on sex hormone production. It can turn male frogs into females that produce viable eggs. It’s also been scientifically linked to breast tumours and prostate inflammation in animals.
How to avoid atrazine: Buy organic produce whenever possible and use a water filter that is designed to remove atrazine.
Phthalates are used as plasticizers in PVC plastics. Since phthalates are not chemically bound to PVC, they often leach into food and air. Humans are typically exposed through direct contact and general environmental contamination. We ingest, inhale, and come into contact with phthalates over the course of our entire lifetime, including during being in our mother's womb. Phthalates can prematurely signal testicular cells to die. Phthalates have been linked to significant hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, ADHD/ADD, asthma, behavioural problems, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, infertility (for men inparticular), diabetes and thyroid irregularities.
How to avoid phthalates: Avoid plastic food containers and plastic wrap made from PVC (recycling label #3). Cosmetic products that contain phthalates, children’s toys and plastic wrap made from PVC, avoid products that simply list added “fragrance,” since this often times refers to phthalates. Take special care with laundry detergents, air fresheners, perfumes, shampoos, and candles.
Perchlorate is a chemical compound that is both natural and man-made. It is a component in rocket fuel, explosives, fireworks, and road flares and it also contaminates much of our produce and milk. When perchlorate enters the body, it interferes with iodine uptake, which is needed to make thyroid hormones. If you ingest too much perchlorate, you can alter your thyroid hormone balance, ultimately affecting your metabolism and brain and organ development in infants and children.
How to avoid perchlorate: Water filter & iodine supplementation.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants found in consumer products. They are used in everything from TVs to mattresses and can bioaccumulate in humans and wildlife.
These chemicals can imitate thyroid hormones in your body and alter thyroid functions. They’ve been linked to hyperthyroidism and lower IQ. And have been found in breast milk.
How to avoid flame retardants: Wear an industrial mask when you replace old carpet, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, avoid reupholstering foam furniture, take care when replacing old carpet, use an air filter. Avoid purchase new products that contain fire retardants such as furniture, mattresses, carpets, blinds/ curtains, insulation, wires & cables, appliances and electronics and seat covers.
Lead is toxic to almost every internal organs and has been linked to many health defects such as brain damage, lower IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, increased blood pressure, kidney damage, and nervous system impairment. Lead disrupts the hormone signaling that regulates your body’s major stress system (HPA axis). This makes you more susceptible to immune function dysfunction, high blood pressure, lower sex hromone levels anxiety and depression.
How to avoid lead: Lead is found prevalently in old paint, so wear a mask if you’re doing home renovation. Use a water filter, eat a clean and organic diet to reduce absorbtion.
Arsenic is a toxin often found in food and drinking water that is a hormone disruptor. It interferes with hormone functioning in the glucocorticoid system that regulates sugar and carbohydrate metabolic processes. Disruption in the glucocorticoid system has been linked to weight fluctuations, immunosuppression, insulin resistance, growth retardation, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.Arsenic exposure has also been linked to increased risk for skin, lung, and bladder cancers.
How to avoid arsenic: Use a water filter, eat organic whole foods.
Mercury is a toxic metal, it is most often let into the air by burning coal. Pregnant women are at high risk for the toxic effects of mercury, since mercury has been known to concentrate in the fetal brain and can affect brain development. Mercury binds to fatty tissue and accumulates in the organs and tissues and ties up receptors that should be available for essential vitamins and minerals and other nutrients. Mercury binds to hormones and interferes with normal signaling pathways. Mercury is known have adverse effects on the adrenal glands, as well as the thyroid, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland. Plus it has been shown to damage cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, which is critical for the body’s ability to metabolise sugar.
How to avoid mercury: Eat seafood that has higher selenium levels than mercury, increase intake of selenium, remove amalgam fillings, avoid industrial pollution such as coal.
PERFLUORINATED CHEMICALS (PFCs)
Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) include a variety of man-made chemicals used across many industries since the 1940s. They’re used to make non-stick cookware and are also found in certain textiles, leather, water-resistant apparel, rubber, and plastics. You can be exposed to PFCs through contaminated through soil, water, food packing, and processing equipment. PFCs are resistant to biodegradation, meaning they easily build up in humans and the environment. PFCs effect thyroid and sex hormone levels in the body. PFOA in particular has been linked to decreased sperm quality, low birth weight, kidney disease, thyroid disease, high cholesterol and cancers.
How to avoid PFCs: Don't purchase non-stick coated cookware or water-resistant/resistant clothing, furniture and carpets. Also, read the ingredients in your cleaning and beauty products and avoid “fluoro” or “perfluoro” and take away food containers and packaged food.
Organophosphate pesticides were developed to target the nervous systems of insects that disrupt agricultural practices and crop maintenance. The were originally produces for warfare in WWII but were never used, so once the war ended scientists used the same chemistry to develop pesticides that target insects nervous systems. They are neurotoxic and exposure is linked to brain development and reproductive defects such as infertility. Organophosphates affect the way testosterone, a male sex hormone, communicates with cells in the body. It has been shown to alter thyroid hormone levels.
How to avoid organophosphate pesticides: Buying organic produce will help limit your exposure to all pesticides, including organophosphate pesticides. Also if you garden, avoid using organophosphate pesticides.
Glycol ethers are man-made chemicals used since the 1960s as solvents and stabilisers in a wide variety of personal, household, and industrial products. They’re used in degreasers, adhesives, cleaners, dyes, inks, water-based paints, lacquers, perfumes, and cosmetics. Exposure to certain glycol ethers has been linked to to blood abnormalities, miscarriage, infertility, liver & kidney damage, pulmonary oedema, anemia, neurological issues, decreased bone marrow production, birth defects, low sperm count & quality, testicular atrophy, asthma and allergies.
How to avoid glycol ethers: Avoid exposure is to avoid products with ingredients such as 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME). When possible, opt for natural cleaning products.
Widely used in cosmetics and body care products as preservatives. They are often found in beauty products as methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Parabens act as estrogen disruptors in men and women, and have been linked to decreased fertility, menstrual dysregulation and increased risk of pre term birth.
How to avoid parabens:The best thing you can do to limit your exposure to parabens is to choose paraben-free beauty products.
An antimicrobial chemical used in a wide variety of household products, including soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, dish detergents, and even exercise clothing.
Triclosan is not only an endocrine disruptor, it is also a carcinogen. Triclosan disrupts the microbiome causing disharmony of the immune system, gut & mental health.
How to avoid triclosan: Avoid antibacterial soaps.
Chlorine disrupts the endocrine system by robbing our cells of iodine. Exposure to chlorine can interfere with the production of testosterone. One study showed that boys who spent a significant amount of time in the pool prior to puberty were three times as likely to land in the bottom 10th percentile for testosterone levels.
Exposure to low levels of chlorine can also cause mild side effects like skin irritation, nausea, trouble breathing, and coughing. And, over time, a decrease in testosterone and thyroid function. Higher levels of chlorine can cause increasingly serious side effects like heart failure or pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs). In WWI, chlorine gas was actually used as weapon.
How to avoid chlorine: Use a shower & tap water filter, avoid bleach cleaning products, chlorinated swimming pools and drinking tap water. Avoid products that contain chlorine/chloride. Avoid processed foods and foods that use water such as pre packages soups, drinks & foods (unless you enquire about whether they filter chlorine)
Fluoride is chemical compound that is often added to drinking water or used as part of dental care. However, fluoride disrupts the endocrine system by displacing iodine in the cells, which can lead to thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s, thyroiditis, and Grave’s disease. Fluoride is also a neurotoxin that can children’s development and lower IQ. Fluoride has also been shown to decrease bone health and is dangerous because it causes lead to leach from pipes that carry drinking water, exposing you to yet another toxic endocrine disruptor.
How to avoid fluoride: Avoid fluoridated toothpaste, mouthwash, floss and dental treatment. Use a fluoride removing water filter, avoid teflon/ non stick pans.
Most of us have already been exposed to far too much fluoride in the water supply. There’s no need to supplement with additional fluoride through dental treatments, toothpastes, or mouthwashes. Avoid processed foods and foods that use water such as pre packages soups, drinks & foods (unless you enquire about whether they filter fluoride)
There are two main types of EMFs: high-frequency ionizing EMFs (from an MRI device, radar, satellite station, gamma rays, and ultraviolet light) and low to mid-frequency non-ionizing EMFs, which also includes radiofrequency radiation. All of our electronic devices and appliances emit non-ionizing EMFs. EMFs disrupt the whole body and have been linked to such issues as increased risk of cancer, hematologic effects and cognitive impairment, metabolism and endocrine function, thyroid functions, fertility, adrenal hormones, glucose homeostasis and melatonin levels.
How to avoid EMFs: Hardwire internet connects, avoid living near strong EMF sources such as 5G towers, keep appliances and devices off or on airplane mode when not in use, only turn on wifi when using it, turn off your wifi router when not in use, remove devices from the bedroom, ground the body daily, use telephones on speaker or with headphones, avoid smart meters and sleep as far away from then, use EMF protection products
Read the labels of your products: there are great resources online and I also recommend the chemical maze books and app for this.
Keep your home ventilated, open windows daily: better yet, invest in an air filter or air purifying plants
Don't wear shoes inside; have specific shoes for inside and outside
Stay away from items that are non-stick, wrinkle free etc
Wash your clothes and bedding before using it
Find a dry cleaner that does not use harsh chemicals
Ask questions and do your research about the products you are buying and using them
Eat organic locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Soak produce in baking soda to remove excess exterior pesticides and chemicals. (mix a table spoon baking soda in water and soak for 12 to 15 minutes.)
Know which conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are exposed to more pesticides and contain higher levels of pesticide residue.- Find out more here
Grow your own produce using organic methods.
Purchase organic tea and coffee.
Ground your body daily.
Reduce exposure to EMFs.
Use non-toxic pest control products.
Use toxin free personal and household products
Eat organic, grass-fed beef and other organic, antibiotic-free & free range meats & poultry.
Avoid toxic cookware
Avoid excessive amounts of some fish (such as tilefish, swordfish, marlin, king mackerel and tuna), rice (in particular brown rice), alcohol, and many non-organic foods
Get moving, exercise daily, this helps with detoxification
Consult your dentist if you have mercury amalgam fillings. And get them from a dentist that knows how to properly remove them.
Eat seasonally, locally, whole and organic foods.
Drink pure and clean water
Stop smoking tobacco, whether normal cigarettes, e-cigarettes or vapes
Avoid excessive processed, fatty, sugary foods.
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If you think you are having issues with your endocrine system contact your healthcare provider