Ok, deadly might be strong word. But I got your attention, didn’t I? The fact is, what you are about to discover regarding your everyday life can indeed lead to diseases that most certainly are deadly.
Women dealing with symptoms associated with perimenopause or menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, achiness, irritability and weight gain, are often familiar with the idea of hormonal imbalances or deficiencies—but disruption? Not so much.
I’m talking about hormone disruptors.
Many of the everyday things we come in contact with are a source of endocrine disruptors, also known as hormone disruptors. These troublesome agents can contribute to altering normal hormone function. They can be absorbed through your skin, so that over time they accumulate and get stored in body fat—wreaking havoc with natural hormone balance. They are among the more than 85,000 manufactured chemicals in the US, lurking in things we touch and consume every day.
Hormone disruptors, often derived from petrochemicals, make their way into our lives disguised inconspicuously as “harmless” household cleaners, air fresheners, plastic toys, food containers, cosmetics, perfumes and health and beauty aids. Exposure also comes from industrial chemicals and persistent pesticides that are pervasive in our modern day environment, processed foods and car exhaust.
They were once dismissed as unimportant because they were emitted in very small quantities, but research now shows that even tiny amounts of these hormone disruptors can have overwhelming effects on our health and hormone balance.
Here are three examples of endocrine disruptors that you need to know about…
- BPA, which stands for bisphenol A, is an industrial chemical used to make two common synthetics—polycarbonate and epoxy resin. Epoxy is used to line the majority of the more than 130 billion food and beverage cans made in the US every year. Sidestep BPA by skipping the cans and choosing fresh or frozen food whenever possible. BPA is also found in 40 percent of the receipts that you grab without a thought from the store clerk. Say “no” to receipts when possible, or take it with a tissue if saving it is necessary. BPA free is getting a lot of attention, but be a wise consumer. Some companies are replacing BPA with bisphenol 5 (BPS). While this allows them to claim that a product is “BPA free,” recent research suggests that BPS also disrupts hormones.
- Phthalates. This chemical plastic softener is often found in cosmetics. It’s used to keep nail polish from cracking…in hair spray to maintain flexibility…and as a solvent and fixative in synthetic fragrances. Phthalates are easily absorbed by the skin and make their way to the bloodstream. How do you know if a product harbors phthalates? Since manufacturers aren’t required to list them, look for the term “perfume” or “fragrance” on cosmetic and personal-care product ingredient labels. You’ll also find phthalates in many plastics, including food containers, toys, and medical devices such as IV tubes and catheters. When possible, check labels for DBP, DNOP, DiNP, DEP, BBzP, DEHP, DiDP, DMP, DnOP—that’s your clue that phthalates are part of the product.
- PFCs or perfluorinated chemicals. Love that nonstick pan? Well, PFCs that prevent food from sticking to your cookware can leach into your food and stick to you! In fact, these endocrine disruptors are so widespread that researchers believe 99% of Americans now have PFCs as part of their chemical body burden. They don’t break down—ever—so every one that has ever been here is still here. Time to refresh your cooking style. Skip nonstick pans, and choose alternatives such as glass, ceramic or cast iron. Beware of coatings that promise fewer stains and water resistance on your clothes, furniture, and carpeting. PFC’s are also used to coat the inside of microwave popcorn bags and fast food containers.
With the tenet of “prevention is the cure” in mind, let’s learn to reduce exposure where we can! The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to lessen the threat these hormone disruptors pose and make your personal environmental and hormone system as healthy as possible.
Tips to Avoid Endocrine Disruptors
- Get rid of plastics (including water bottles) and use glass.
- Buy organic food whenever possible.
- Make your own household cleaners.
- Opt for chemical-free cosmetics and personal care products.
- Always read product labels.
- Do not microwave food in plastic containers.
- Use unbleached paper products and feminine protection (if you still need it).
- Trade in garden pesticides and herbicides for organic alternatives.
- Visit helpful websites such as EWG.org, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.