Endocrine Disruptors: What They Are & How to Protect Yourself
More and more science is shedding light on the dangers of endocrine disruptors or endocrine disrupting chemicals. Here’s what they are and how to limit your exposure!
Hormones are a pretty big deal to say the least.
They’re the chemical messengers that tell the body what to do, when to do it, and how.
But more and more science is drawing the connection between certain chemicals we’re exposed to on a daily basis and hormone disruption — these chemicals have been aptly named “endocrine disruptors” or “endocrine disrupting chemicals.” In fact, just this past week a new analysis was released showing that male sperm count in Western countries has decreased almost 60% in just the past 40 years. This is really very concerning, and unsurprisingly, endocrine disruptors have been identified as one potential culprit.
Given the how widespread endocrine disruptors are nowadays and the potential harm, it’s important that we know exactly what they are and how to protect ourselves.
What are endocrine disruptors?
Endocrine disruptors interfere with the body’s endocrine system: the system of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things. In other words, they interfere with the body’s hormones and the specific functions of those hormones.
Endocrine disruptors interfere with hormones by:
- Mimicking the body’s natural hormones like the sex hormones estrogens and androgens as well as thyroid hormones. This can potentially induce overstimulation.
- Bind to cells’ hormone receptors and prevent the body’s natural hormones from binding, preventing the hormone from getting where it needs to go and doing its job.
- Interfering with the way hormones or their receptors are made or controlled (example: by altering their metabolism in the liver)
What dangers do endocrine disruptors pose to our health?
Endocrine disruptors have been linked to hormonal imbalances, precocious puberty (early-onset puberty) in young girls, fertility issues, reproductive toxicity, reproductive-related cancers, breast cancer, learning problems, and even obesity (fun fact: some endocrine disruptors are further classified as “obesogens“).
How are we exposed to endocrine disruptors?
A number of different chemicals are classified as endocrine disruptors. They include:
- Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS) — Found in plastic products, can linings, receipt paper
- NOTE: BPA-free plastics often contain BPS, BPA’s chemical cousin and an endocrine disruptor. That’s why BPA-free is a load of BP(S).
- Triclosan — Found in antibacterial soap, toothpaste
- Artificial fragrance — Found in personal care products, perfume, home cleaning products
- Phthalates — Found in plastics, food packaging, vinyl shower curtains, children’s toys
- Parabens — Found in personal care products
- Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) — Found in non-stick cookware, wrinkle-free clothing
- Organophosphate pesticides — Found on produce farmed with conventional pesticides
- Atrazine — Found on produce farmed with conventional pesticides, in water
How can we protect ourselves from endocrine disrupting chemicals?
Try to avoid them as much as possible!
Make the switch to natural personal care products. Start by taking a look through My Super-Simple All-Natural Skincare And Beauty Routine, which details all of my favorites!
Kick unhealthy chemicals out of your home. I designed The Home Detox Guide to help you do just that. This 55-page guide is jam-packed with information about the chemicals in your home and how to create the healthiest home for your family.
Choose organic produce as much as possible. Don’t forget these 7 Ways to Save Money on Healthy, Real Food to make it a little easier on your savings account!
Limit plastic and cans. Swap our your plastic water bottle for a glass one and your plastic food storage containers for a glass set. And as much as possible, choose foods sold in glass rather than plastic or cans.
Boost your body’s detoxification pathways
The liver is responsible for filtering chemicals as well as excess and used hormones from the blood, and so plays a key role in both detoxification and hormone balance. Support your liver with these 10 Ways to Give Your Liver Some Extra Love.
And check out these 8 Simple Daily Detox Habits for Gentle Cleansing.
I think you’ll find these posts helpful!
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Isn’t there something we can make at home for exfoliating instead of buying from another manufacturer? I have sensitive skin (71 yr. old woman wanting to have better looking skin). Can I talk to someone on the teli about how to start going about fixing my skin on the face? Thank you.
I really appreciate the list of places endocrine disruptors can be found, from which they wreak havoc. Thank you!
This is an important topic and one that we all need to pay more attention to.. Thanks for your ideas and good reminders!
This is such helpful information! I hope more and more people are learning about this because it’s just SO important!
I had no idea of all of this. Such good information
Great post about an important topic! Especially the littles!
Thank you so much, Kim! I really appreciate hearing that 🙂
Thank you, Nadia. As always, your articles are so clear and comprehensive! Thank you for passing on the information that we all need to know and pass on as well.
Yes, most receipt paper is coated in BPA!
That shiny paper that all receipts are made of is serious poison for sperm counts. Try not to touch it, especially if you use sanitizer (bad).
Thank you, Nadia, for the important andvital info you provide. Those artificial fragrances, the plug-ins and candles, are endocrine disrupters. Unfortunately, some doctors and dentists use those things in their offices. Quite alarming.
Scary indeed! We need to take this seriously and really invest our time and effort into every shopping outing. We need to read and educate ourselves, and then make the smartest choices we can. Thanks for your blog!
Oh I’m sure there are a number of causes! It’s important that we identify this as a serious public health threat and start addressing them!
And thank you, Pat! Will do 🙂
I had seen the post about the low sperm counts in men on FB. I was blaming it on Monsanto/Bayer ((haven’t seen many butterflies this summer so far!) without anything to back it up, but your article has been illuminating! You are doing a great job with this blog. Say hi to your dad from me!