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We are exposed to endocrine disruptors in our everyday lives, oftentimes unknowingly. Endocrine disruptors are harmful chemicals that can be in food, water, cosmetics and personal products, plastics, household products, and our soil. They can cause hormone imbalance which not only affects how we feel and behave but is also linked to a long list of physical and mental ailments. To avoid endocrine disruptors, use this blacklist to identify and avoid endocrine disruptors to prevent hormonal imbalance and improve your health.
The endocrine system in our body consists of glands that release hormones. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with or mimic the hormones in our body. When they interfere with our hormones, they can cause problems with development, reproduction, your immune system and brain. Endocrine disruptors can be found in a variety of products that we use everyday from food and water to cosmetics. These endocrine disruptors can enter our bodies and affect our hormones through our skin or if we ingest them.
Endocrine Disruptors in Plastics
There are endocrine disruptors present in plastics, such as plastic water bottles. The common type of endocrine disruptor found in plastics is called bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is thought to interfere with estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormones. Studies have shown that BPA can affect how eggs mature and affects the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, parts of the brain. This results in BPA affecting puberty, ovulation and potentially causing infertility in both men and women, along with erectile dysfunction in men.
Along with problems with reproduction, BPA is also thought to cause heart conditions (such as angina, hypertension and heart attacks), diabetes, weight gain and increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer while decreasing the effectiveness of chemotherapy for breast cancer.
To know if a plastic bottle contains BPA, inspect the small triangle that is present on plastic bottles. Each of these triangles show a number and those showing 1,2,4, 5 or 6 most likely do not contain any BPA. Those showing numbers 3 and 7 are most likely to contain BPA. Other plastic products may also contain BPA, such as plastic food containers and baby pacifiers.
Endocrine Disruptors in Food and Water
Drinking water may contain endocrine disruptors, such as perchlorate. Perchlorate can enter water supplies as it is commonly used in fertilisers, explosives and road flares.
Perchlorate is an endocrine disruptor that is both man-made and naturally occurring. The majority of perchlorates are commercially produced salts. It is most commonly used in fertilizers, road flares, and explosives, including fireworks. Perchlorate specifically interferes with the thyroid and the production of thyroid hormones. The thyroid is responsible for the development and activity of many tissues in the body, including the brain. Pregnant women and babies should be especially wary of this very dangerous endocrine disruptor.
The health risks that are associated with perchlorate include interference with iodine uptake into the thyroid gland, affecting the thyroid and production of thyroid hormones. Adverse health risks exist for pregnant women and their babies if they are exposed to perchlorate due to its effects on the thyroid.
Phthalates are used in hundreds of products, among them plastic wraps and food and beverage containers. These endocrine disruptors leach into foods while stored and release when containers are left in the sun or microwaved. Phthalates interfere with testosterone production, a principal hormone for men which can affect sperm quality and genital development. Testosterone is also important for females as well. Phthalates can be identified on plastic containers with the number ‘3’ and ‘V’ or ‘PVC’ in the recycling symbol.
So, if you are wandering: What is the most common endocrine disruptor? Probably the most well-known endocrine disruptor is the bisphenol A (BPA), which is used in countless plastic products. While there was a big BPA-free movement a decade ago, BPAs are still used in water bottles, plastic containers, and epoxy resins which preserve canned foods. Acid and heat can encourage extra BPA leaching. BPAs are banned in children’s products. BPAs are associated with infertility, specifically in reducing egg quality and viability.
Endocrine Disruptors in Farming
Endocrine disruptors, such as dioxins, were commonly used in herbicides and pesticides. Once applied to the land, they can leak from the ground into water sources and soils. Dioxins have been thought to cause hormonal problems, cancer and infertility. Exposure to dioxins can also cause skin lesions.
Endocrine Disruptors in Hygiene and Cosmetic Products
Probably the best known from this category, parabens, can be found in body creams, fragrances, essential oils, sunscreen, and hair products in addition to cosmetics. Parabens have been linked to breast cancer.
Per- and polyfluorinated substances, also known as “forever chemicals,” are found in many cosmetics like waterproof mascara, conditioner, sunscreen, and foundation among others. They have been linked to serious issues in the endocrine, reproductive, and immune systems, notably fetus development, and reduced response to vaccines in children.
Triclosan is often used as an anti-bacterial and can be found in everything from toothpaste to hand washes. In higher doses, triclosan is linked to reduced thyroid hormone production. As mentioned, it is commonly found in personal care and hygiene products, such as liquid soap, deodorant and toothpaste. Studies have shown that triclosan can lead to a decrease in the level of thyroid hormones and may also cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. More research is required to fully understand and confirm the effects of triclosan on the human body.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is an emulsifier and sudsing agent that can be found in shampoos. What’s especially frightening about this endocrine disruptor is it’s commonly used in engine degreasers. SLSs can be carcinogenic and can affect the kidney, liver, and nervous systems.
Dioxins are also found in tampons. Before the later half of the 1990s, tampons were bleached with chlorine which caused even higher levels of dioxins. Today, dioxins are still present but at lower levels. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that use of tampons would provide women with only 0.2% of the maximum intake of dioxins.
Endocrine Disruptors in Household Products
In addition to avoiding BPAs and Tricolsan in your household products, you should also avoid, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). These endocrine disruptors are used in flame retardants and interfere with thyroid and liver function in addition to being linked to some cancers and diabetes.
Pesticides are found in many household cleaners and detergents, as well as their more obvious presence in insect extermination and prevention. There are over 50 active ingredients pesticides that have been identified as endocrine disruptors by the European Union. They have been linked to Parkinson’s disease, reproductive issues, cancer, and developmental and learning disorders.
Endocrine Disruptors in Farming & Soil
“Agricultural chemicals, including herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, and fungicides, are prime examples of synthetic endocrine-disrupting molecules,” are present in the soil used for farming and grazing according to researchers at the Department of Comparative Bioscience, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their most recent study also suggests it may even damage DNA.
Glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides are endocrine disruptors. They have been linked to issues with female reproduction by altering ovarian and uterine functions.
Ten endocrine-disrupting pesticides have been linked to interfering with sexual and reproductive development. They include amitrole, cyhalothrin, fipronil, ioxynil, maneb, mancozeb, pentachloronitro-benzene, prodiamine, pyrimethanil, thiazopyr, ziram, zineb. These pesticides are used at both the industrial level and in everyday home garden pesticides.
A Simple Solution: Hormone University’s Seal of Approval
The endocrine disruptors listed here are just a quick list of chemicals you should try to avoid. There are many more out there. It’s for that exact reason that Hormone University created a new rigorous certification, The Seal of Approval, to help consumers reduce their exposure to endocrine disruptors. The Seal of Approval provides an independently verified certification that guarantees a product does not contain endocrine disruptors and promotes hormonal wellness.
Products ranging from food and beverage to Femtech to beauty and skincare are reviewed by the Hormone University Board of Advisors, a panel of doctors, experts, and medical professionals who extensively evaluate each product to ensure it meets our exacting criteria. When a product has the Seal of Approval, you can be assured that it does not contain endocrine disruptors and will be a healthy choice for your health and well-being holistically.
Hormone University was created as an educational platform with the mission to improve hormone health through accessible knowledge and to advocate for social impact in our communities.
You’re not alone.
80% of the adult female population has experienced hormonal imbalance at one point in their life that affected not only their physical health but also their mental health. Coping with pain, infertility, anxiety, depression, body image issues, and, on top of this, judgment is the heavy load most of these women have to bear each day and an important problem we need to tackle as a society.