The 12 Worst Endocrine Disruptors
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that negatively affect the endocrine system. They are also known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs. These common chemicals wreak havoc on your hormone system. Since the EPA’s math can get tilted by the efforts of the chemical industry (especially Atrazine) here is a list of the 12 worst endocrine disruptors, where to find them, and how to avoid them.
BPA: Interacts with estrogen receptors and contributes to cancer and its progression. Found in water bottles, receipts, plastic food containers, coating in some metal cans, dental sealants and composites.
ATRAZINE: A potent estrogen disruptor and one of the most common herbicides used in the United States. It was banned by the European Union since 2004 but is still widely used in the US. Linked to tumors, cancers (breast, ovarian, uterine and prostate) as well as puberty and developmental problems. It also has been found to negatively affect male genitalia. Found on lawns, corn (and all of its by-products), sorghum, sugarcane, macadamia nuts and guava. When possible, buy organic fruits and vegetables and make sure your water filter provides removal. Avoid the use of lawn pesticides and herbicides.
DIOXINS: Formed during industrial processes, dioxins are carcinogenic. They also affect both the immune and reproductive systems, and can lower sperm count. Dioxins are found in fish, shellfish, meat and dairy. While dioxins are more challenging to avoid, taking advantage of local farms to purchase meats and dairy helps.
PHTHALATES: Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are used to make plastic more durable. They are linked to low sperm count, birth defects in male reproductive system, and trigger death inducing signaling to testicular cells. Found in plastic, toys, plastic wrap made with PVC, some personal care products, and nearly everything with a fragrance, especially if just labeled “fragrance”. Be sure to stay away from undisclosed fragrances and focus more on clean fragrance and essential oils.
PERCHLORATE: Perchlorate is used as an oxidizer to rocket fuel and now contaminates a large amount of produce and our milk supply. Perchlorate competes with iodine which affects the thyroid gland and is also found in contaminated water and some foods. It's important to use a good water filter and make sure you are obtaining enough iodine in your diet. This is yet another reason to eat organic when possible.
ARSENIC: Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal found in earths crust. Unfortunately, small doses interfere with normal hormone functioning. The highest levels are found in contaminated groundwater, rice, seafood, some mushrooms and fruit juices. White rice is actually known to have less arsenic than brown. Again, a good water filter is important.
FIRE RETARDANTS: Fire retardants contain incredibly persistent chemicals known as PBDEs and have been found in humans and animals worldwide, even polar bears. They are so pervasive that the levels in breast milk have doubled every year since 1972. Found in furniture, carpeting, children’s pajamas, mattresses, strollers, nursing pillows, foam cushions, and some paints and varnishes. Always let new furniture and carpeting air out, and always check labels.
GLYCOL ESTHERS: Glycol Esthers are mainly used in paint but also are found in oven/floor cleaners and some cosmetics and sunscreen. The American Journal of Industrial Medicine found blood abnormalities and anemia in painters as well as poor sperm quality and low motility.
ORGANOPHOSPHATE PESTICIDES: Organophosphate pesticides are manmade chemicals that target the nervous system of insects. They are most widely used in agriculture, homes, gardens, and veterinarians. Some common household items where these chemicals are found; flea and tick collars, shampoos and sprays for dogs and cats, no pest strips and products, fruits and vegetables (from pesticide use).
PERFLUORINATED CHEMICALS (PFC): Unfortunately, 99% of Americans have PFCs present in their bodies. While 3 chemicals in this class were finally banned in 2016, many are entirely resistant to biodegradation. These chemicals are linked to decreased sperm quality, low birth weight, high cholesterol, kidney and thyroid disease. Found mainly in in non-stick cookware, stain resistant coatings on clothing and furniture. We recommend stainless steel and ceramic cookware as a substitute.
MERCURY: Mercury is a naturally occurring metal, but is mostly created when burning coal. It is shown to damage cells in the pancreas and can interfere with fetal brain tissue. Eating large fish should be limited or avoided.
LEAD: Lead is known to harm almost every organ in the body. This includes but is not limited to; permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, miscarriage, kidney damage, nervous system damage, and high blood pressure. Lead paint used in painting homes prior to 1978 has been found to be the main cause of exposure, although some makeups (including lipstick) and some children's toys have been shown to still contain lead.
How Can I Avoid Endocrine Disruptors? Step one of avoiding endocrine disruptors is knowing where they exist. The good news is there are a lot of alternatives to the potentially harmful products mentioned above. Be adamant about reading labels, eating clean when you can, and investing in quality goods for your home, self, and children. Sadly, as you may be able to tell, some of these are simply unavoidable. It seems as though a little awareness can go a long way. At Wholebody Solutions, we recommend LivCo for detoxification, General Female Endocrine Packs for female endocrine support, and Symplex M for prostate issues and sperm quality.
Please reach out to our team of practitioners here with any questions or concerns.