Endocrine Disruptors: What, why & how?
Endocrine disrupters are commonly talked about in health news nowadays, so what’s the big deal? They are significant because they are hormone-altering chemicals. If you imagine how changing hormones affect teenagers, pregnant, PMS-ing, or menopausal women, you know that when hormone levels are out of whack, EVERYTHING is out of whack. This is what EWG (Environmental Working Group) and Keep A Breast say in their Dirty Dozen list of endocrine disrupters:
There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones.
You can read the full details and download the information pdf from their site. Here’s a quick low-down:
1. BPA: Linked to breast & other cancers, reproductive issues, obesity, heart disease.
Found in: plastic items, can linings, receipt coatings.
2. Dioxin: Linked to cancer, affects immune & reproductive systems, may cause lower sperm count & quality in men.
Found in: animal products.
3. Atrazine: Linked to breast tumors, delay of puberty, possibly prostate cancer.
Found in: corn crops and drinking water.
4. Phthalates: Linked to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes, thyroid irregularities.
Found in: plastic food containers, plastic toys, personal care products.
5. Perchlorate: Affects thyroid hormone balance.
Found in: produce, milk, and drinking water.
6. Fire Retardants (PBDEs): Linked to thyroid hormone imbalance, lower IQ.
Found in: furniture and anything with fire retardants.
7. Lead: Linked to brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, premature birth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage, nervous system problems.
Found in: old paint, drinking water.
8. Arsenic: Linked to skin, bladder, lung cancer, can interfere with glucocorticoid system leading to weight gain/loss, immunosuppression, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, growth retardation, high blood pressure.
Found in: drinking water.
9. Mercury: Linked to diabetes, fetal brain development.
Found in: seafood.
10. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCS): Linked to decreased sperm quality, low birth weight, kidney disease, thyroid disease, high cholesterol. And NEVER breaks down.
Found in non-stick cookware, stain and water-resistant coatings.
11. Organophosphate Pesticides: Linked to issues with brain development, behaviour and fertility.
Found in produce pesticides.
12. Glycol Ethers: Linked to blood abnormalities and lower sperm counts.
Found in paints, cleaning products, brake fluid, cosmetics.
Sounds pretty nasty, doesn’t it?? Read more here about what Environmental Defence found about toxins in babies.
To find out more, Green Facts has a great explanation on the topic of endocrine disruptors, and The Endocrine Disruption Exchange has excellent research findings and information.