Let’s face it, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) are not just affecting the United States, they are a worldwide problem. They are one of the largest health threats facing us today. You may think that they are merely just simple chemicals, however, that is just the tip of the iceberg. In numerous recent studies, EDC exposure has been shown to be a major contributor in neurological disorders, hormone related cancers, infertility, diabetes, and obesity. Some studies done in animals, have found that even the smallest amounts of exposure in an unborn child, can actually trigger obesity, insulin resistance, and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, later in life. With the alarmingly growing rate of these diseases, we have to get everyone involved and on board quickly, to facilitate the changes that need to occur before the epidemic worsens.
What are EDCs and where do I find them?
The National Institute of Health classifies EDC’s as “chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse development, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife”. These can be natural compounds, substances or man-made chemicals. They can be found in pharmaceuticals, pesticides, plasticizers like Bisphenol A (BPA), which are found in metal food can liners, receipt paper, and plastic drinking bottles. Along with BPA there are also phthalates, which are found in cosmetics and fragrances, plastics, flame retardants, and pesticides. These chemical compounds are everywhere and everyone is exposed to them, included fetuses. These substances are known for mimicking and blocking the body’s natural process of making hormones. They confuse the body by taking over the messaging system for cells, thus changing the way cells grow and communicate. When these chemicals are absorbed in the body, they can increase or decrease normal functioning hormone levels.
It’s extremely important to know that everything you put on your skin and in your body is absorbed into your bloodstream and throughout your body. When these chemicals accumulate, you may or may not begin to have symptoms, but they will continue to affect your health, regardless.
A few tips on avoiding these toxic chemicals:
*Eat organically grown produce and grass-fed, organic meats and produce, as much as possible. This reduces your exposure to hormones, pesticides and chemicals.
*Choose glass bottles over plastics and cans. BPA chemicals can leach into the food stored in these containers. Look for BPA free cans and bottles. This includes baby bottles and children’s cups.
*Use glass cookware, ceramic or cast iron instead of non-stick pans. The chemicals in non- stick cookware can leach into the foods that are being cooked in them.
*Use non-toxic cleaners for all cleaning purposes.
*Check that your children’s toys are BPA free. These include pacifiers, teething products and anything they will put in their mouths.
*Replace your current personal care products with organic, non-toxic skin care, hair products, deodorants, toothpastes, and cosmetics, that are natural and fragrance free.
*Avoid air fresheners and synthetic scented candles and sprays.
The Environmental Working Group has great information on products that are free from chemicals. You can always reference their website for further information on chemicals in skin care, cosmetics and cleaners. Being informed and getting involved are the best ways to raise aware-ness about the dangers of these harmful chemicals.
“National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.” Endocrine Dis-ruptors. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 11 Aug. 2015. Web. 8 Oct. 2015. <http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/>.
“Chemical Exposure Linked to Diabetes and Obesity Risk.” Medicalex-press.com. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 1 Oct. 2015. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.