Hormones affected include the female sex hormone estrogen, the male sex hormone androgen, and thyroid hormones. These chemicals can block hormonal signals in the body and disrupt how the hormones or receptors are made or controlled. And with the potential risk of life-threatening conditions and illnesses, including cancer, clearly this is not something to be taken lightly.
A comprehensive report on how these chemicals are affecting our health was released in 2013 by the World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The list of issues proves alarming, and includes: thyroid cancer, prostate cancer in men, ADHD in children, developmental effects on the nervous system in children, and non-descended testes in young males.
Endocrine disruptors are also affecting wildlife, as they contaminate water, air, and food. In fact, Lake Apopka, Florida fell victim to a severe decline in their alligator population due to the alligators and their eggs being contaminated with endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Sadly, the majority of chemicals that make their way onto the market each year aren't subject to toxicity tests. And even when they are, endocrine-interfering properties aren't even taken into consideration.
While it can seem overwhelming to think our planet is filled with nothing but toxic chemicals, it's necessary to be aware of how your lifestyle may be putting you more at risk for exposure to such things as endocrine disruptors. Some of the most common sources of these chemicals include:
- Personal care products
- Drinking water
- Canned foods
- Conventionally grown produce
- CAFO Meat, Poultry, and Dairy Products
- High-Mercury Fish
- Cleaning products
- Kitchen products
- Opt for organic food, eat mostly raw, and avoid pre-packaged, processed foods, which can contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates.
- Stay away from high-mercury fish that can disrupt hormone balance. Especially avoid farmed fish, which are high in contaminants.
- Avoid canned foods, since a majority contain BPA, which is a known endocrine disruptor that has been linked to a number of health issues including structural damage to your brain, changes in gender-specific behaviour, abnormal sexual behavior, hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, impaired learning, early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, ovarian dysfunction, and infertility.
- If your home, yard, or pet is infested with pests, avoid using pesticides and opt for holistic remedies, baits, and traps. Keeping your home clean is a great way to prevent this from happening in the first place.
- Find out if your work environment and your child's school and/or childcare center uses pesticides. If so, take a stand and push for these environments to use non-toxic alternatives.
- Avoid plastic water bottles, storage containers, plastic wrap, and plastic teethers and toys for children. These may leach endocrine disrupting chemicals.
- Opt for earth-friendly, animal-friendly, green, non-toxic, and/or 100 percent organic products when choosing things like decor, clothing, cleaning products, and toiletries. Ensure they are free from phthalates and other harmful chemicals.
- Opt for ceramic, stainless steel, copper, and cast iron over non-stick, which, when heated, release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This is linked to thyroid disease, infertility, and developmental and reproductive problems.
- Stay educated about endocrine disruptors, inform your friends and family, and stand up for a change of government regulation and increased research on them.