I took a trip to California this past weekend, and I am still a bit jet lagged.
For those of you who don’t know, it’s where I grew up. A girl friend of mine is pregnant at 43, after years of heartache and IVF treatment.
We threw her a huge congratulatory baby shower. Many friends from my college years were there, and every one of them was frustrated with weight gain, being tired, and being peri-menopausal.
So today, I thought I’d talk about endocrine-disrupting toxins: what they are and how to avoid them. These toxins are often what causes these unfavorable symptoms.
First of all, what is the endocrine system?
The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, just to name a few. It’s an important system.
Too often, treatment for the aforementioned symptoms is to throw in more hormones.
However, it’s more important to address the root cause of hormonal imbalance.
Multiple feedback mechanisms balance our hormones, like a light switch that turns on and off. In order for the light to turn off, a physical input is needed to flip the switch off.
Similarly, messengers “activate” and “deactivate” our hormones, and such messengers need proteins to turn them on and off.
However, many things can get in the way of this, some of which we can control:
- Chronic stress
- Lack of sleep
- Environmental toxins that enter our body through the air or the foods we eat
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, are toxins that upset our endocrine system.
So getting back to hormone imbalance, it can cause unnecessary pain and it’s much more efficient to understand chronic pain causes and treatment. It’s much more effective to eliminate the toxins that are disrupting your hormones than to throw in more hormones. Because ultimately hormonal imbalance can cause side effects like chronic pain.
How do toxins cause disruption?
- Toxins can mimic a hormone that occurs naturally in the body, and activate hormones that often produce inappropriate or undesirable hormonal effects
- They block the activity of internal hormones by occupying their receptors
- Many toxins can interfere with the creation or metabolism of hormones and/or their receptors, indirectly affecting the body’s normal response
The endocrine system is very important during early development, and there can be a large risk of toxin transmission between pregnant or breastfeeding mothers to their newborns.
The effects of the toxins on adults can result in infertility or in some cases, breast cancer.
The three main toxins that interfere with our hormonal balance are:
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- Bisphenol A (BPA)
Where do they come from?
Many toxins in the environment, both naturally occurring and man-made, disrupt hormones.
They come from: medications, food additives and preservatives, pesticides, BPA (plastics), and heavy metals.
They are found in plastic materials for food storage, food itself, cosmetics, detergents, household cleaning products, and flame retardants.
Organizations such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) create an updated list of produce items that are most likely contaminated with pesticides (Dirty Dozen) and those that are least likely contaminated (Clean Fifteen).
It is recommended to purchase organic when it comes to the Dirty Dozen because these items will contain more toxins. You can get the list here.
Most toxins display estrogen-like activity. These include naturally occurring phytoestrogens (e.g., genistein), xenoestrogens (non-naturally occurring estrogen), and metalloestrogens (heavy metals that activate estrogen).
They are a huge concern because of their potential to increase the risk of hormone-dependent cancers, particularly breast cancer.
So let’s take a closer look at these toxins. The more you understand, the more you can take proper precaution.
BPA is a common word found on quality water bottles, labeled “BPA” free.
The linings of food and beverage cans contain BPA, as well as thermal paper used in receipts. Food and beverage cans are the main culprits of BPA, but we can absorb smaller amounts through the skin when handling cash register recipes or paper money.
BPA acts like a weak estrogen in the body.
Heavy metals have multiple toxic effects, particularly in high doses.
For example, it is known that exposure to lead induces male infertility by blocking the production of sperm.
Metals that can accumulate in the body over many years include cadmium, lead, and mercury.
Out of these, cadmium is the most researched and proven to increase estrogen-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer. Cadmium exposure in non-smokers is mainly due to diet, while in smokers there is a high risk of direct exposure via inhalation of smoke.
So what can you do?
- Minimize exposure by following the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen from EWG click here.
- Look for BPA-free cans and plastics. Most of them are now labeled
- Avoid smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke
If you have concerns about toxic exposure, we can easily test this. Please contact us to be tested for over exposure and/or to address the root cause of hormone imbalance, prior to jumping into hormone replacement, including thyroid.
I also recommend completing a metabolic cleanse. You can get info here.
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Thank for watching! See you next week!