The 12 Worst Endocrine Disruptors and How to Avoid Them – The Epoch Times

These common chemicals can wreak havoc on your hormone system and the many critical roles it plays

At the turn of the previous century, we began to introduce dangerous and unnatural chemicals into our lives and environment because of promised conveniences and cheaper prices. People jumped at the opportunity to enjoy niceties that generations before them hadnt. But, as wouldnt be discovered for years, many of those conveniences would prove deadly, and were still discovering the ramifications that these substances have had on our health and planet.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals or toxins that affect the human (and often animal) endocrine system, typically by mimicking hormones and disrupting hormone function. Hormones are one of the bodys essential messenger systems and are responsible for triggering some of our most transformative processes, including growth, puberty, and reproduction. Endocrine disruptors can affect hormone levels and hormone production, wreaking havoc on the body.

Endocrine disruptors usually affect development and reproduction and can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and changes in the brain and immune system. We encounter multiple endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our daily lives. Theyre found in many everyday products, such as plastic bottles and food containers, the lining of metal food cans, food, toys, detergents, cosmetics, receipts, and pesticides. Because theyre ubiquitous and people are exposed to so many simultaneously, studying their health effects is complex, and the long-term health consequences remain unclear. What seems certain is that these unnatural chemicals harm our health, the health of wildlife, and the environment, as well as contaminate our food and water supply.

The endocrine system is made up of a complex network of glands and organs that release hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones control mood, growth, and development, the functioning of our organs, metabolism, and reproduction.

The major glands and organs that make up the endocrine system are the following:

The endocrine system is responsible for a huge number of the bodys processes and is vital to the bodys healthy functioning. Because endocrine-disrupting chemicals can damage the delicate hormone balance the endocrine system regulates, knowing where these chemicals are and how to limit our exposure to them is vital to our health. In addition to avoiding endocrine-disrupting chemicals, getting a lot of exercise and eating a healthy diet are the best ways to keep your endocrine system functioning optimally.

Heres a list of the 12 worst endocrine disruptors, where to find them, and some of the best ways to avoid them.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in plastics that can mimic the hormone estrogen, interacting with estrogen receptors in the body and contributing to cancer development and progression. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1950s. Exposure to BPA has been linked to breast, prostate, and other hormone-associated cancers. BPA has been replaced in some products by BPS and BPF, but scientists are discovering these chemicals may be just as bad.

Atrazine is a potent endocrine disruptor and one of the most commonly used herbicides in the United States, used mainly to control grasses and broadleaf weeds. Approximately 80 million pounds of it are used annually in the United States alone. Atrazine persists in the environment and is pervasive in ground, surface, and drinking water. Atrazine is so toxic to wildlife and humans that it was banned in the European Union in 2004. It continues to be widely used in the United States.

In humans, atrazine exposure has been linked to tumors; breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers in women; and prostate cancers in men. It has also been linked to delayed puberty and other developmental and reproductive problems. A study from 2011 confirms atrazines effects across a range of species, including ours, and found that it both demasculinizes and feminizes vertebrate male gonads.

Dioxins are formed during many industrial processes and also result from burning chlorine or bromine in the presence of carbon and oxygen, a common occurrence in many combustion processes, including waste incineration or burning oil or wood. Dioxins can disrupt male and female sex hormones in the body. Research shows that exposure to low levels in the womb early in life can permanently affect sperm quality and lower sperm count in men during their reproductive years. Dioxins are long-lived and build up in the body and food chain, are potent carcinogens, can affect immune and reproductive systems, can cause developmental problems, and can interfere with hormones.

Dioxins are found in the environment worldwide and accumulate in food chains, mainly contaminating the fatty tissue of animals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 90 percent of human exposure to dioxin is through the intake of animal fats, mainly meat, dairy products, fish, and shellfish. Milk, eggs, and butter are also at risk of contamination with dioxins.

Avoiding dioxins is challenging since the ongoing release of dioxins has contaminated a considerable percentage of the U.S. food supply. Cutting back on animal products can limit your exposure to these dangerous chemicals, as well as raising your own animals for food.

Studies have linked phthalates to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities. Phthalates have also demonstrated the ability to trigger death-inducing signaling in testicular cells, making cells in the testicles die sooner than they should.

Perchlorate is used as an oxidizer in rocket fuel and, according to government data, now contaminates most of our produce and milk supply. Inside the body, perchlorate competes with iodine, which the thyroid gland (part of the endocrine system) needs to make thyroid hormones. Too much perchlorate can cause fluctuations in the thyroid hormone balance, which is essential to regulate metabolism in adults. This delicate hormone balance is also a critical part of brain and organ development in infants and young children.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal found in the earths crust. Its also a poison that exists in our food and drinking water. At high enough levels, arsenic will kill you outright. But in smaller doses, it disrupts hormones and can cause skin, bladder, and lung cancers.

Arsenic also interferes with normal hormone functioning in the glucocorticoid system that regulates how our bodies process sugars and carbs. Disrupting this system has been linked to weight gain and loss, immune system suppression, insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes), osteoporosis, retarded growth, and high blood pressure.

Fire retardants contain incredibly persistent chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), and have been found in humans and animals worldwide, even polar bears. They can disrupt thyroid hormone activity, cause memory and learning problems, delay mental and physical development, lower IQ, and reduce fertility.

Although several PBDEs have now been phased out, theyre incredibly persistent and will continue contaminating humans and wildlife for generations to come.

Flame retardants are so pervasive that a 1999 Swedish studyregarding womens breast milk found that the milk contained something they hadnt expected: the endocrine-disrupting chemical found in flame retardants and that the levels had been doubling every year since 1972.

Glycol ethers are a large group of organic solvents used industrially and in our homes as glass, carpet, floor, and oven cleaners.Studies show that rats exposed to glycol ethers suffered testicular atrophy or shrinkage.

Because many of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals are found in paints, painters are particularly susceptible to their harmful effects.

A study from the University of Sheffield shows that men working as painters and decorators exposed to glycol ethers are 2 1/2 times more likely to have poor sperm quality and a low motile sperm count. Another study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found blood abnormalities and anemia in shipyard painters exposed to ethylene glycol ethers in the paint they used.

This is a tough one, as these chemicals are in many of the products we use daily.

Organophosphate pesticides are a group of man-made chemicals that target the nervous system of insects and are the most widely used insecticide. Theyre used in agriculture, homes, gardens, and by veterinarians for treatments on pets. Studies have linked exposure to organophosphate pesticides to an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Other studies found that agricultural workers working with these pesticides had an increased risk of several hormone-related cancers, including breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and cancer of the ovaries.

Exposure to organophosphate pesticides can affect how testosterone communicates with other cells in the body, lower testosterone levels, and alter thyroid hormones.

Perfluorinated chemicals are so ubiquitous and enduring that 99 percent of Americans have them in their bodies. Even though three chemicals in this category were banned in 2016 by the Food and Drug Administration, many are entirely resistant to biodegradation, which means well continue to be exposed long into the future.

Exposure is linked to decreased sperm quality, low birth weight, high cholesterol, kidney disease, and thyroid disease.

Scientists are still studying how these chemicals affect the human body, but animal studies show that they affect thyroid and sex hormone levels.

Mercury is a naturally occurring, but toxic metal released into the air and oceans primarily by burning coal. You can eat it by consuming seafood that has been contaminated with mercury.

Pregnant women are most at risk from its toxic effects, as its known to concentrate in fetal brain tissue and can interfere with brain development. Mercury has also been shown to damage cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, critical for the bodys ability to metabolize sugar.

Practically all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. Still, as smaller fish are eaten by larger fish higher up the food chain, mercury concentrations increase, making large, predatory, deep-ocean fish such as sharks and swordfish contain the highest levels.

Lead harms almost every organ in the body and has been linked to an extensive list of health problems, including permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriages, premature births, increased blood pressure, kidney damage, and nervous system problems.

One of the most common forms of lead exposure is lead-based paints, used in millions of U.S. homes before 1978. These paints contain high levels of lead and are particularly toxic to children. Many toys and some furniture in the same era were painted with lead-based paints, although goods imported from China in recent years have had notably high lead levels.

Research has shown that lead can disrupt the hormone signaling regulating the bodys primary stress response system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This system is involved in high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, and depression.

Lead is particularly destructive to the human nervous system, especially in children. A 2013 study found that lead had adverse effects on the behavior and development of children.

**Children with healthy diets absorb less lead

The health consequences of these chemicals can be overwhelming, especially since endocrine disruptors are so pervasive in the products we use. Fortunately, you can significantly reduce your exposure by changing your purchasing habits. It also helps to be aware of the broader problem.

Tyrone Hayes, a biologist and professor of integrative biology at the University of CaliforniaBerkeley, researches atrazine. He noted in his TedX talk that studies already completed by the CDC and others have found that women who conceive during peak atrazine contamination are more likely to have babies with birth defects including malformed genitals in the male babies.

But Hayes quotes a response from the EPA explaining that the agency deals with such problems by assigning a monetary value to the disease impairments and shortened lives caused by a chemical and weighing these against the benefits of keeping a chemical in use.

And sometimes the EPAs math can get tilted by the efforts of industry.

Hayes faced a systematic effort by Syngenta, the primary manufacturer of atrazine, to discredit him and his work, an effort eventually revealed in a lawsuit. Federal agencies may struggle to protect Americans, and large corporations may not believe they are doing significant harm. But at the end of the day, its the choices of everyday Americans that shape the country and determine which business and products thriveand which disappear.

The 12 Worst Endocrine Disruptors and How to Avoid Them - The Epoch Times

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