Endocrine disruptions chemicals (EDCs) are chemicals and substances that interfere with our bodies natural hormonal function. They can impact the body in three different ways:
o Mimic or partly mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body (i.e estrogen, thyroid hormone, testosterone) which can lead to overstimulation.
o Bind to the hormone receptor and prevent the naturally occurring hormone from binding. This prevents the hormonal signal from being sent and the body fails to respond properly.
o They may interfere with the way natural hormones and their receptors are made or controlled (i.e altering metabolism in liver).
Hormones play a crucial role in our bodies for numerous functions from reproductive health to mood and weight control. The impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) has been studied in reproductive health. The research is preliminary however it suggests that EDCs may impair hormone function which can impact sperm production in men, ovulation and egg quality in women. In women with PCOS and endometriosis, EDCs may exacerbate these conditions.
There are over 800 chemicals that have been implicated as potential EDCs however very few have been studied in depth. I have listed four EDCs that have been studied and shown to have an impact on hormones and reproductive health:
What is it? By product of chlorine bleaching and burning waste
Where is it found? Meat, dairy, and seafood products.
Impact on the body: Affects both male and female sex hormones (i.e estrogen, testosterone). Studies have shown that exposure to digoxin in the womb can affect the sperm quality and count in males. Digoxin is a carcinogen and has been shown to impact the immune system as well as the reproductive system.
How to avoid it: Reduce meat, dairy and seafood consumption, incorporate more plant based meals.
What is it? Bisphenol A, S, F are plasticizers, chemicals used to make plastics softer and more flexible. It is common to see products that are now BPA free, however, it is not guaranteed that they are BPS or BPF free, these chemicals are substitutes for BPA and often times are not listed on the product.
Where it is found: Plastics (esp #7), receipt paper, the lining of cans and teething toys.
Impact on the body: It is weakly estrogenic, meaning it may act as estrogen in the body leading to overstimulation.
How to avoid it: Try to minimize consumption of canned foods (i.e tomatoes, legumes and beans), opt for dry beans and legumes and soak them overnight. Look for cans that are BPA free. When purchasing plastics look for BPA free variety, be cautious however it may be BPA free but not BPS or BPF free. Try using glass containers and water bottles if possible. Try natural toys made from natural materials as opposed to plastic.
What are they? Plasticizers, chemicals used to make plastics softer and more flexible
Where are they found? Fragrances, body care products, soft plastics and teething toys.
Impact on the body: Phthalates have been linked to obesity, and thyroid irregularities. They have been shown to affect the male reproductive system potentially causing birth defects in the reproductive organs, lowering sperm counts, and causing decreased sperm motility. They have also been shown to negatively impact the immune system
How to avoid it: Purchase skin care products that are unscented or scented naturally with essential oils. Avoid fragrance and products that are artificially scented. Find teething toys or alternatives made from natural material. Use glass when possible to replace soft plastic.
What are they? Preservatives found in pharmaceuticals, skin care, and cosmetic products.
Where are they found? Body care products and cosmetics.
Impact on the body: Parabens have been shown to have estrogenic activity (mimic estrogen in the body), anti-androgen activity (inhibit androgens (i.e testosterone) , and have a genotoxic effect (damage cell DNA which could lead to mutations).
How to avoid them? Using skin care products and cosmetics that are paraben free. Parabens are absorbed through the skin, be mindful of what you put on your skin.
I encourage you to download the Skindeep or Thinkdirty app, both are available on your smart phone. They have been formulated to identify chemicals in cosmetics, skin care, and house hold products. They rank the product's safety based on the chemicals they contain. They provide information about the chemicals present in the products and their impact on your health. They empower you to be mindful of your daily toxic exposure and help guide you toward cleaner safer products.
Book in now for more information on how to minimize your exposure to EDCs.