Common Endocrine Disruptors

Posted November 23, 2015 | Uncategorized

Our daily environment can harness a host of environmental pollutants and hormone disruptors that can be harmful to our bodies. They are not just found in gasoline and car pollution, but cleaners, chemicals used at home, water bottles, even our drinking water. Our endocrine system is essential in producing hormones that are necessary in growth, puberty, and regulating functions of other bodily systems. Here we discuss some of the most prevalent endocrine disruptors and how to avoid them.

  1.  BPA- stands for Bisphenol A

What is it and where it can be found:

This is a chemical produced in large quantities for use in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics can be found in linings of cans, water bottles, infant bottles, and CDs. Epoxy resins are used to coat metal products like food cans, bottle tops, AND water supply pipes. 

How is it an endocrine disruptor:

BPA has the ability to mimic our estrogen hormone. Estrogen is a hormone that is necessary for puberty, bone health, and reproductive health. It has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer, obesity, reproductive problems, precocious puberty and heart disease.

How can you protect yourself and your child:Bottled-Water (1)

  • It is best to avoid plastics marked with “PC” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #3 or #7.
  • Do not microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers.
  • If you have a young infant or child, make sure to purchase baby bottles that are BPA free.

2. Phthalates

What is it and where it can be found:

Phthalates are a group of chemicals commonly used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. Phthalates can be found in certain kids toys, plastic food containers, and plastic wrap.

How is it an endocrine disruptor:

Studies have shown that phthalates can trigger cell death. This can be troublesome because we need cells to function properly for our organ systems to work. Unwanted cell death can disrupt cell signaling and production of hormones. It has also been linked to dysregulation of the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities.

How can you protect yourself and your child:lego

  • Purchase toys that are organic and made with wood
  • It is best to avoid products that list “fragrance” in it as it is a broad term meaning hidden phthalates.
  • To find phthalate free personal care products, please visit the Environmental Working Group’s skin deep data base:

 3. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFC)

What is it and where it can be found:

According to the EWG, perfluorochemicals (including perfluoroctane and polytetrafluroethylene) are so widespread and extraordinarily persistent that 99% of Americans have these chemicals in their bodies. Can be found in carpet cleaning liquids, microwave popcorn bags, non-stick cookware and some water resistant products.

How is it an endocrine disruptor:

Perfluoroctane (PFOA) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) have been shown to be resistant to biodegradation. These PFCs have been linked to different cancers, thyroid disease, liver damage, and has cardiovascular implications as well.

How can you protect yourself and your child:

  • We do not recommend non-stick cookware. It is best to look for cast iron or ceramic pots and pans as alternatives.
  • If you are unsure if it contains PFC’s, calling the company is a great way to get your questions answered.
  • Also making sure that furniture, carpets and water resistant coats do not contain PFCs would be wise.

 4. Lead 

What is it and where it can be found:

According to the CDC, at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. Lead is a toxic metal that can be found in paint in homes, school buildings that were built before the 1960s, old pipe systems that carry drinking water, PVC products like mini blinds, coat hanger, flooring, insulation.

How is it an endocrine disruptor:

It has been shown to harm almost every organ system in the body. Research has shown that lead can disrupt hormone signaling that regulates the body’s major stress modulation system called the HPA axis (hypothalamic- pituitary axis) Lead can cause anemia by impairing heme synthesis an increasing the rate of red blood cell destruction.  It has also been linked to an array of adverse health effects like lowered IQ, disruption of our methylation cycle, kidney damage and problems with our nervous system.

How can you protect yourself and your child:

  • Best way to avoid lead is to make sure that there is not crumbling old paint in the house.
  • Making sure that toys in the house are not made with lead pain.
  • Water can be source of lead especially if the pipes are older. Getting a report from the county or city yearly about water quality, and investing in a good water filter would be beneficial.

5. Mercury

What is it and where it can be found:

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal. Natural sources of mercury include volcanoes and forest fires.  It gets into the air and ocean primarily through burning of fossil fuels.  Mercury can travel long distances in the air, and mercury that is deposited in water can turn into its most toxic form methylmercury.  This means that the living organism in larger bodies of water like seafood will also have varying amounts of mercury in their bodies.

How is it an endocrine disruptor:

Methylmercury has been shown to bind to hormones that regulate menstrual cycles and ovulation. It has also been shown to damage cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, which is critical for the body to metabolize sugar.

How can you protect yourself and your child:free CFL lightbulbs

  • Be cautious when purchasing fluorescent light bulbs (like CFL energy saving light bulbs) and learn how to safely clean up any broken light bulbs.
  • Limiting the amount of tuna eaten (raw tuna, canned, or cooked)
  • Avoiding high fructose corn syrup.

6. Arsenic

What is it and where it can be found:

Arsenic is a heavy metal that can be found in nature in both toxic or non-toxic forms. It can be found in our soil, seafood, certain fruits and grains.

How is it an endocrine disruptor:

In smaller amounts, arsenic can cause skin, bladder and lung issues. But in large amounts, arsenic can interfere with the normal functioning in the glucocorticoid system, which helps to regulates how we process sugar, carbohydrates. Disruption of this system has been linked to weight loss or weight gain, immune suppression, insulin resistance, etc.

How can you protect yourself and your child:

  • Invest in a high quality water filter, please visit Environmental Working Group water filter database:
  • Limiting rice products, apple juices and apple sauce

Being more aware of products that may contain endocrine disruptors as well as limiting foods that may contain heavy metals can keep you and your child healthy. Boosting detoxification pathways will also help get rid of these chemicals and metals. There are many ways to do this, and is not limited to daily exercise, proper nutrition, hydration and supplements to reduce total body inflammation and oxidative stress.  If you have any questions regarding endocrine disruptors please make and appointment with your doctor. 


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