Endocrine Disruptors


Image: Landesbioscience.com

The topic of endocrine disruptors has been in the news a lot lately.  So much of the time, I feel like terms such as these are thrown around haphazardly without full explanations of the who, what, why, and how. This drives me a bit bananas, to tell you the truth…especially when these products can lead to things like cancer. UGH.

Sometimes it seems as though much of the time we (myself included) are a mile wide, but an inch deep, not knowing what we (I mean me) are talking about.  So there are these pesky things – endocrine disruptors – that we really do need to pay attention to!

Please allow me to give you the back story. Let’s start with the endocrine system. What is it you ask? Well, the endocrine system is a complex network of glands and hormones within the human body. These glands regulate many of the body’s functions such as growth, development, maturation, moods, reproductive processes, and the way in which various organs operate. The endocrine glands release hormones into the bloodstream that act as chemical messengers, traveling to different parts of the body in order to control various life functions.

An endocrine disruptor is otherwise known as an environmental toxin. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the function of the body’s hormone system. These chemicals turn on, shut off, or modify the signals that hormones carry to the rest of the body, causing parts of the body to not function properly. Studies suggest that endocrine disruptors may cause reductions in fertility, abnormalities in male reproductive organs, increases in mammary, ovarian, and prostate cancers, cancerous tumors, diabetes, obesity, increases in immune and autoimmune diseases, and some neurodegenerative diseases. This is all seriously gross and awful.

Endocrine disruptors come from a variety of sources such as chemical and industrial waste, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, oral contraceptives, detergents, food, cosmetics, and plastics. The number of substances believed to act as endocrine disruptors is very large, including both natural and synthetic materials. Some substances such as pesticides are intentionally released into the environment, while others are byproducts of industrial processes and waste disposal. Can you even believe this?

Here are a list of some of the endocrine disruptors (hopefully you have heard of some of them): BPA, Dioxin, Atrazine, Phthalates, Perchlorate, Fire retardant, Lead, Arsenic (hanging out in food and drinking water!!!), Mercury, PFCs, Organophosphate pesticides (used in chemical warfare during WWII), and glycol ethers. This list makes my heart and tummy hurt.

Where the heck are the Shining Moments, you ask (heaven knows that I was!). Well there are ways to protect against endocrine disruptors:

  • Educate yourself, family, and friends about them (which you are doing now by reading this post, thank you very much!). The Environmental Working Groupis a super resource.
  • Avoid using pesticides in your home, yard, or on your pet (because I have to ask: who in their right mind would use a pesticide on their pet for heaven sakes?)
  • Avoid cooking, microwaving, and storing food in plastic or styrofoam containers
  • Buy organic food whenever possible. I know that it’s more expensive, but your health is worth it.  …and I’m here to tell you that medical bills are much more expensive than organic foods!
  • Avoid foods that are high in fat such as cheese and meat whenever possible. I have been doing that for ages now. Every once in a great while, I jump off the vegan train and have a cheeseburger and you know what?  I have a food hangover for literally days. It is amazing what a “clean” body can no longer tolerate!
  • Ask your grocery store manager if the produce and animal-based products are from waters, farms, and rangelands that have been tested for pollution and contamination
  • Do not give young children soft plastic teethers or toys, because these toys may potentially leach endocrine disrupting chemicals
  • Avoid liquid soaps and lotions that contain Triclosan, which is an agent associated with endocrine disruptors

Do you have any thoughts or feedback?  Any non-endrocrine-disrupting products that you love? I always love to hear from you!


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