Before we talk about endocrine-disrupting chemicals, it’s important to understand the basics of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is commonly known as the hormone system. It is responsible for controlling the way your body grows and produces energy and plays a major role in reproductive health. Think about hormones as the body’s messengers. If one part of the body needs to communicate with another, it will use hormones to do it.
What are endocrine disruptors?
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals introduced into the body that interfere with your hormones. As you can imagine, your hormones being unable to perform their functions properly can wreak havoc on your health.
Endocrine disruptors function in a number of ways, usually by mimicking a hormone and ‘tricking’ the hormone receptor into activating a function unnecessarily. They can also bind to a hormone receptor and block it from picking up any of the hormones, stopping the functions from occurring.
What do they do to the body?
The health issues associated with endocrine-disrupting chemicals begin during development in the womb. Fetal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can result in a wide range of issues like increased cancer risks later in life, intellectual disabilities, low birth weight and birth defects usually related to reproductive organs.
There is also some evidence that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals around puberty can have an adverse effect on the development of growing children, such as starting puberty later or improper development of breast tissue.
In adults, endocrine-disrupting chemicals can cause issues such as respiratory problems, metabolic issues, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular problems.
Common endocrine disrupting chemicals
- Pesticides like DDT, Glyphosate and Atrazine: Many pesticides, which are designed to be toxic for the nervous and reproductive systems of pests, can also disrupt human endocrine systems.
- Phthalates, BPAs and perfluorochemicals: Due to the higher risks associated with exposure for young children, there has been an increased focus on the presence of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals in children’s toys, clothing, and plastic crockery such as baby bottles.
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB): PCB is used to make electrical equipment like transformers as well as heat transfer fluids, hydraulic fluids, plasticisers and lubricants.
- Triclosan: Designed to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination, triclosan can be found in some personal care products like liquid body wash.
How to avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals
Choosing organic foods to avoid pesticides is an increasingly popular way to limit exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Choosing products for babies that have been certified free of BPAs, and having lead paint properly and safely removed, are also great ways to keep yourself and your family safe.
If you’re concerned about your health, your baby’s health, or are experiencing health problems that are worrying you, then Wandal Medical Centre is here to help. We are committed to helping you feel your best and will work with you to find solutions that suit your individual needs. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.