In researching and preparing for this week’s blog post, my thought process and whole livelihood was challenged. Maybe yours will be too, or maybe this is old news for you.
Before I dive into my Top 4 Endocrine Disruptors, let me refresh your memory on exactly what our endocrine system does.
The endocrine system is a collection of glands that produce hormones, regulate our metabolism, sexual function, reproductive system, sleep, mood, and a whole slew of other things. When our endocrine system isn’t working properly, it results in disruptions to these and other areas of our bodies.
For those of us ladies going through menopause, we want to help our endocrine system stay as balanced as possible. We are already experiencing a low production of needed estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. What happens when our bodies stop producing these hormones? We may experience those freaking hot flashes and night sweats! We may also experience a low metabolism resulting in unwanted weight gain and lack of energy. We can also lose our sex drive and become moody and/or depressed.
I personally do not need anything else disrupting my hormones! Menopause has done enough of that!
What if you are not going through menopause? You still want a properly functioning endocrine system. Endocrine disruptors can cause issues with fertility, low metabolism and obesity just to name a few big ones.
Chances are that unless you are having issues, you haven’t really thought much about your endocrine system. But, I’m here to tell you that there are hidden products called xenoestrogens that we use every single day that can disrupt our endocrine system. BIG TIME.
Xenoestrogens are found in a variety of products that you have been using your whole life without thinking about how they are made, without thinking the ingredients in them may contain toxins that are harmful to your health, and without knowing those products could be negatively affecting our bodies!
Xenoestrogens produce estrogen-like effects within the body. When our body absorbs them, xenoestrogens increase our body’s estrogen production thereby confusing our body. Since our endocrine system is designed to tell our body which hormones it needs to produce, disruptors like xenoestrogens can be detrimental to our reproductive organs, immune system, neurological system and overall development.
Buildup of xenoestrogens have been found to cause breast cancer, prostate and testicular cancers, obesity, infertility, miscarriage, and diabetes.
Let’s get down to the dirty truth and talk about these every day products.
Top 4 Endocrine Disruptors
Many of our beloved skincare and cosmetic products (including makeup) contain parabens. What is a paraben? “Parabens are a class of widely used preservatives in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Chemically, they are a series of parahydroxybenzoates or parahydroxybenzoic acid (also known as 4-hydroxybenzoic acid).” Parabens are known to disrupt hormone function. Also, try to swallow this information: Europe bans 1,400 of these harmful ingredients from use in personal care products; Canada has banned around 600; and the U.S. has banned only 30. Start reading labels on your makeup, skincare and other personal products! Make sure you are using products that truly are safe for your body!
- BPA – Biphenyl A
BPA is a chemical used to make plastics and are often used in food storage containers and water bottles. So, you might think before you drink water out of a plastic bottle. Avoid plastics marked with “PC” for polycarbonate or with the recycling label #7. We should not be microwaving in plastics, drinking from water bottles that have been sitting in the heat. The heat releases the chemicals into the food/water and therefore that toxin gets into our bodies. BPA has been linked to everything from breast and other cancers to reproductive problems and heart disease. Maybe it’s time to switch out those Tupperware containers that you inherited from your mother and exchange them for Pyrex type glass containers, and replace those convenient plastic water bottles with an even better stainless Yeti type reusable water bottle (also convenient). Also, I’m preaching to the choir because I have both plastic containers and plastic water bottles in my kitchen. But, I now have my weekend project. (I told you earlier, I was challenged in my research for this post.)
- Synthetic Fragrances
More than 95% of chemicals in synthetic fragrances are derived from petrochemicals, such as benzene, aldehydes, and phthalates (we will talk more about phthalates in a minute). Did you know that U.S. manufacturers can legally label hundreds of synthetic chemicals with the single word “fragrance”? It does NOT have to reveal what the actual ingredients of that “fragrance” are. That is because “fragrance” is considered a trade secret. Synthetic fragrances can be found in your personal care products, laundry detergents, dryer sheets, those great smelling candles, air fresheners, and household cleaners. According to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Top 10 Killer Household Chemicals Study, one of the top pollutants in your home is found in laundry soaps and fabric softeners! Think about it. You wash your clothes in a laundry detergent that contains a nice smelling “fragrance”, and then you wear those clothes loving how fresh they smell. BUT, that scent is absorbing into your skin. The skin is the largest organ on your body and does not have a filter. The toxins found in that fragrance you love so much are absorbed into your skin in a matter of seconds and can have damaging effects on your body. Again, read labels and buy unscented, natural products from a reputable company. If you want your house to smell amazing, ditch the harmful candles and diffuse 100% pure essential oils. Not only will your home smell great, your health will benefit from inhaling the oils!
Phthalates are found in each of the above three categories so I thought they deserved their own category. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. Phthalates are found in plastic food containers, children’s toys, plastic wrap made from PVC, fingernail polish, hair spray, soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other personal care products. Phthalates have been shown to disrupt hormones, reduce sperm counts, and cause reproductive issues, and are linked to breast cancer and other medical issues. Read your labels and refer to items #1-3 above.
Are you having an “ohmigod” moment like I did? The more I dug in, the more disturbed I became. I already knew some of this information, but I didn’t understand the depth until I did my own research. It was disturbing!
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there is probably no way we can remove all of these toxic products from our lives. Actually, I think it would be almost impossible. However, we can eliminate our exposure to them by controlling what we allow inside our homes.
Next time you are at the grocery store, Target or Walmart, think about those everyday household products you are throwing into your cart. Think twice about how that beloved bottle of orange laundry detergent or cute teddy bear fabric softener can disrupt your endocrine system and have other damaging effects on your body. Think twice about that nicely scented body lotion or body wash that you are buying and the damaging effects that its trade marked “fragrance” can have on your endocrine system and overall health.
Think before you buy. And, like I always tell my girls, make good choices.
Now that you have read the above and are ready to swap some of those products out, please know that you have safe, natural solutions to replace those tainted with toxins. Products will not disrupt your endocrine system or have longtime damaging effects on your body.
I would love to share my favorites with you. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 817-300-7288.
Live healthy, my friends, and remember that age is just a number.