Endocrine Disruptors

August 6, 2015 EWG has a downloadable list of chemicals for you. 

EWG’s Dirty Dozen: Cancer Prevention Edition: Scientists are only beginning to investigate how certain chemicals may interact to contribute to cancer development. But given that we live in a sea of chemicals, it makes sense to begin reducing exposures to ones we know are bad actors. Here are EWG’s tips for avoiding 12 harmful chemicals that have now been found to also disrupt cancer-related pathways — known as cancer hallmarks.”

March 2015

I became interested in this subject a few years ago. We should all be concerned about chemicals in our environment & foods. But we, both men & women, should be particularly concerned with this classification of chemicals. Recently I have noticed that the medical community has also taken an active interest in them.

Medscape: March 06, 2015, SAN DIEGO — Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals results in a range of human diseases and abnormalities, costing a total of roughly €157 billion (about $175 billion) annually in the European Union, a new analysis shows. Read the entire article here: Medscape

What are Endocrine disruptors? Here is a paragraph from an article from the National Institute of Health Science:  Read the entire article by clicking here; NIHS

Endocrine disruptors can

  • Mimic or partly mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body like estrogens (the female sex hormone), androgens (the male sex hormone), and thyroid hormones, potentially producing overstimulation.
  • Bind to a receptor within a cell and block the endogenous hormone from binding. The normal signal then fails to occur and the body fails to respond properly. Examples of chemicals that block or antagonize hormones are anti-estrogens and anti-androgens.
  • Interfere or block the way natural hormones or their receptors are made or controlled, for example, by altering their metabolism in the liver.

First I will list some of the worst chemicals & define them for you. After that I will provide information about where they are found and how to avoid them.

These chemicals are in our environment and in our processed foods. The 12 worst, called the “dirty dozen endocrine disruptors” by the Environmental Working Group, EWG, are listed & defined for you below. I added a 13th one that is found in cosmetics & processed food. The definitions are from various sites on Google including the National Institute of Health.

  • BPA: bisphenol A, an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.
  • Dioxin: a highly toxic compound produced as a byproduct in some manufacturing processes, notably herbicide production and paper bleaching. It is a serious and persistent environmental pollutant.
  • Atrazine: a synthetic compound used as an agricultural herbicide to control weeds.
  • Phthalates: a group of man-made chemicals that are structurally related to the organic acid, phthalic acid. The most important use of phthalates is in plastics, especially PVC, where they act as plasticisers.
  • Perchlorate: A chemical used as the primary ingredient of solid rocket propellant and in munitions beginning in the 1950s. Perchlorate is also used in the production of explosives and fireworks. It adds the blue color to firework displays. Perchlorate remains in use and is unregulated.
  • Fire Retardants: are compounds added to manufactured materials, such as plastics and textiles, and surface finishes and coatings that inhibit, suppress, or delay the production of flames to prevent the spread of fires.
  • Lead: Lead poisoning is an environmental hazard that is capable of causing mental retardation, behavioral disturbance, and brain damage.
  • Arsenic:  a poisonous chemical that is used especially to kill insects and weeds. It occurs naturally in low levels in our environment.
  • Mercury:  a heavy metal (liquid at normal temperature) which is a systemic poison that attacks brain, bowels, kidneys, and other body organs.
  • PFC’s (perflourinated chemicals): are a family of fluorine-containing chemicals with unique properties to make materials stain- and stick-resistant. Some PFCs are incredibly resistant to breakdown and are turning up in unexpected places around the world.
  • Organophosphate pesticides: the basis of many insecticides, herbicides, and nerve agents. The United States Environmental Protection Agency lists organophosphates as very highly acutely toxic to bees, wildlife, and humans.
  • Glycol ethers: a group of solvents based on alkyl ethers of ethyleneglycol or propylene glycol commonly used in paints and cleaners.
  • Propyl Paraben:  the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetic products. It is now showing up in foods.

Where are these chemicals found and how do we avoid them? We are all aware of BPA in plastic but how about the others? A list can be found in this great article on the EWG website: Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors  There is also a PDF list that you can download.

These chemicals are not only in our environment but in our processed food. According to the EWG.org website, propyl paraben is in 49 widely available processed foods. You can see a list of them here EWG/Propyl Paraben 

Dana Farber Cancer Center has a downloadable PDF file called: What contaminants are you eating? Seven Common Foods That May Be Harmful  This list gives you the the “culprit”, health concerns, & how to avoid it. The list includes: canned tomatoes, corn-fed beef, non-organic potatoes & more. 

Take this information and apply what works for you; what is most important to you, to your lifestyle & the foods you choose to eat. We aren’t able to avoid every “bad thing” in our environment. But we can make informed choices. Eating a plant-based & organic diet when available & affordable is one way to avoid the pesticides, antibiotics & growth hormones. Don’t become overwhelmed by trying to change EVERYTHING AT ONCE! That always sets us up for failure. Make one change at a time.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them”….Denis Waitley