How to Avoid Endocrine Disruptors in Your Everyday Life


tree with cloudy skies aboveMost people don’t spend too much time thinking about the endocrine system—but they should. This one system regulates the body, and when that system doesn’t function correctly, major breakdowns can occur. Think: diabetes, adrenal insufficiency, thyroid disease, reproductive issues, sleep disorders, and even osteoporosis—all endocrine disorders.


“Endocrine dysfunction isn’t isolated to one group of organs. Your endocrine system controls and affects other systems: mood, sleep, metabolism, tissue and muscle growth, libido and reproduction,” says Jessi Shapiro, retail coordinator in the Raby Institute apothecary Alma. “Disrupting the endocrine system can set off a domino effect of health problems. It is especially important for children and adolescents whose bodies are still developing."


Basically, the endocrine system is the signaling mechanism that tells major organs what to do. And it communicates in the language of hormones, which endocrine glands secrete into the bloodstream.


A recent New York Times story implicated endocrine disrupting chemicals in causing sperm disfiguration. “These days, scientists say, an increasing proportion of sperm — now about 90 percent in a typical young man — are misshapen, sometimes with two heads or two tails,” Nicholas Kristof writes. “Human and animal studies suggest that a crucial culprit is a common class of chemical called endocrine disruptors, found in plastics, cosmetics, couches, pesticides, and countless other products.”


According to the Environmental Working Group, the “dirty dozen” hormone-altering chemicals are:

  1. BPA: imitates estrogen in the body

  2. Dioxin: lowers sperm quality and quantity, carcinogenic

  3. Atrazine: linked with feminization of male frogs, and linked to breast tumors, possibly prostate inflammation and cancer

  4. Phthalates: linked to lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities

  5. Perchlorate: alters thyroid hormone balance, which regulates metabolism in adults and proper organ development in infants

  6. Fire retardants: imitate thyroid hormones in the body and disrupt activity

  7. Lead: linked with brain damage, hearing loss, miscarriage, increased blood pressure, kidney damage, nervous system issues. In animals, was found to lower sex hormone levels, disrupt hormone signaling that regulates stress response

  8. Arsenic: causes skin, bladder, and lung cancers. Interferes with how the body processes sugars and carbohydrates—linked to weight gain/loss, protein wasting, immunosuppression, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, growth retardation, and high blood pressure

  9. Mercury: interferes with women’s menstrual cycle and ovulation. Damages cells in the pancreas, affecting how the body metabolizes sugar

  10. PCSs (perfluorinated chemicals): linked with decreased sperm quality, low birth weight, kidney disease, thyroid disease, high cholesterol

  11. Organophosphate pesticides: interferes with testosterone communication, alters thyroid hormone levels

  12. Glycol ethers: linked with blood abnormalities and lower sperm counts, asthma and allergies


Integrative Nurse Practitioner Melissa Frazelle says, “You’re going to be exposed to a certain amount of toxins no matter what, but you can take steps to minimize your exposure.” She adds, “It’s hard to pinpoint where you’re getting the bulk of exposure, but try to avoid these chemicals where you can because many are cumulative and will add up over time.”


If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe. And then read on for some easy ways to remove these toxic chemicals from your life.


Avoid:

  • drinking water out of soft plastic bottles

  • buying canned goods, unless labeled BPA-free

  • putting plastics in the dishwasher and microwave

  • using standard sunscreens, unless mineral-based sun block

  • handling receipts from thermal printers

  • cooking in Teflon-coated pans

  • using nail polish

  • storing food in plastic containers

  • using cleaning products with 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME)

  • buying clothes, furniture, or carpet with stain- or water-resistant coating

  • eating animal products


Incorporate:

  • eating organic foods to avoid pesticide residues

  • using a water filter

  • checking personal care products

  • adding iodine to diet

  • using a vacuum with a HEPA filter

 

If you have questions about endocrine disruptors in your life, schedule an appointment to talk about what you can do with one of our providers. Or check out our Spring Detox, which focuses on removing toxic chemicals from your life.

Integrative medicine is about seeing every person fully – recognizing that good healthcare attends to and nurtures body, mind, and spirit.