After the second World war there was a sudden burst of activity in the chemicals industry. The government had a surplus of ammonium nitrate, a principle ingredient in making explosives, and after research they decided to spread the ammonium nitrate on farmland as fertilizer. The chemical fertilizer industry (along with that of pesticides) is based on the poison gases developed for the war. Knowing what’s best for your health today means knowing how to avoid endocrine disruptors.
There are now over 80,000 toxic chemicals used everyday and less than 1% have been tested. There is a growing concern that they are not safe.
In “Our Chemical Lives” a segment recently aired on the ABC program Catalyst, Professor Peter Sly said, “There’s no requirement to show that these chemicals are actually safe before people are exposed to them”.
We are in the midst of a huge uncontrolled human experiment. From the moment we are conceived we are exposed to a cocktail of potential toxicants. Beginning in the womb, our most vulnerable developmental time, these chemicals make their way across the placenta directly into the foetus. Two new studies have provided more evidence that toxic chemicals used in everyday products contaminate the bodies of pregnant women, who pass the chemicals onto their foetuses before birth.
These industrial chemicals may be interfering with the normal pattern of development of a foetus, lower IQ, and linked with cancer and reproductive problems. “An editorial published in Endocrinology, a journal of The Endocrine Society, endocrine experts agreed that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) pose a threat to human health and to the ecosystems of Earth.”
The endocrine system produces hormones that regulate almost every aspect of human health. They are essential during foetal development. Timing is critical. There are different windows of susceptibility, depending upon which stage of development the chemicals find their way into the unborn and may produce adverse effects at a specific developmental time.
They are everywhere in our environment, food, air and water.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals can act like hormones, disrupt the normal patterning of hormones and mimic the effects of true estrogen, linking to receptor sites and contributing to estrogen excess or block the effects of true estrogen. These substances are not naturally found in the body and interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism, binding, action or elimination of the body’s natural hormones.
A wide and varied range of substances are thought to cause endocrine disruption. The NTP expressed “some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A“, which is just one of many hormone disruptors that mimic estrogen. It is found in the lining of cans, cosmetics, skin creams cash register receipts.
Food is sprayed with herbicides like Roundup. Researchers found that, in a laboratory study, Roundup killed cells responsible for producing progesterone in women, leading to a drop in levels of that hormone.
The effects were seen at Roundup levels currently permitted in Australian drinking water, which is 1 mg/L. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup has been classed as a “probable” carcinogen by the World Health Organization. It is also patented as an antibiotic and kills beneficial gut bacteria.
Endocrine disruptors are often released from consumer products that contain them and enter the bodies of humans and wildlife through dust or through the food chain. A large volume of studies have shown that EDCs exert their effects by interfering with endogenous hormone action and can impact male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology. It’s a huge chemical soup.
Where Endocrine Disruptors are Found
- At home and in the workplace
- Air we breath
- Food, drink , water
- Plastic food containers
- Plastic products
- Building materials
- Skin contact
- Household cleaning products
- Garden weed and pesticide sprays
- Fire retardants
- Industrial pollution
- Cigarette smoke
- Pesticides and Herbicides end up on our food and in our, air and waterways
“There is good reason to suspect that increasing chemical production and use is related to the growing incidence of endocrine-associated disorders over the past 20 years, including male reproductive problems, early female puberty, cancers and neurobehavioral disorders,” said Endocrine Society member Andrea C. Gore, PhD, ”Importantly, there is growing evidence that fetuses and children have a particular vulnerability to these chemicals.”
10 tips on how to avoid Endocrine Disruptors
- Opt for glass and don’t heat food in plastic or coated paperboard
- Use safe household cleaners and avoid antibacterial products
- Avoid the over use of antibiotics and use only when there is a bacterial not viral infection
- Choose a drug-free approach to birth control
- Avoid alcohols, parabens, DEA, MEA, TEA, ureas, petroleum, glycols, sulphates, phthalates and phosphates. Check out Cosmetic Safety Database
- Avoid processed and refined foods
- Eat more fibre rich foods and less sugar
- Buy Organic
- Buy grass-fed animal products
- Eat fermented foods to replenish healthy gut flora
Chemicals are just about everywhere, but by making simple choices you can make great changes to avoid endocrine disruptors and what you pass on to your children and the environment.
Find out how to replenish your healthy gut bacteria and protect yourself against the damage of endocrine disruptors; come along to my cooking workshop to make and take home a jar of REAL unpasteurized cultured food that will replenish your healthy flora.