Unless you are eating and drinking completely natural and organic, you are probably putting something in your body that can cause an imbalance in your body hormones. This is especially true of women because there are a lot of products and foods out there that can lead to estrogen mimickers and hormonal imbalances.
Men, too, can suffer from hormonal imbalances from products in our everyday environment and may develop low sperm count or poor quality sperm.
Common Chemicals in Consumer Products that can Threaten Good Health
Here are most common chemicals found in popular consumer products and what they can do to your body:
You probably consume phthalates every day and you don’t know it. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, often found in soft plastic food and drink containers, such as the soft and squishy plastic water bottles that many people use everyday. Phthalates cause an increase in cell death so that sperm cells die earlier than they are supposed to. The sperm count can be lowered with more poor quality sperm.
Birth defects have been known to occur in fetal males, plus men and women can develop thyroid problems, diabetes, and obesity. You can avoid phthalates by not storing food in plastic containers, not using water bottles and avoiding certain kid’s chewing toys. Skin care products that simply say “fragrance” as one of their ingredients can mean you are putting phthalates on your body that will be absorbed.
BPA acts as an endocrine disruptor by mimicking sex hormones inside the body. BPA can cause children to experience early puberty and adults can develop breast cancer, cancer of the reproductive organs, heart disease, and obesity.
BPA is found in the linings of metal food cans as well as on plastic products marked with “PC” or polycarbonate on their labeling. Eat fresh foods instead of canned foods in order to reduce the amount of BPA in the body.
BPA is very prevalent with more than 90% of people having detectable amounts of BPA in their bodies.
Dioxin can disrupt both the endocrine systems of males and females. Dioxin present in the uterus can permanently lower male sperm count in men as they age. The quality of sperm will be less than normal. Dioxin causes cancer and immune dysfunction as well.
Dioxin isn’t easily degraded by the body so that it has a tendency to build up over time. Unfortunately, the food supply is filled with dioxin. Products like milk, eggs, meat, butter, and fish all contain dioxins. If you go vegetarian and limit your exposure to these products, you will have a lesser concentration of dioxins in your body.
This is a chemical that is used for making fuel for rockets and it also happens to be found in a great deal of milk and produce we consume. Perchlorate competes with iodine and can cause an imbalance in the thyroid gland. You need a healthy thyroid gland in order to maximally metabolize inside the body’s cells.
It has been found that having perchlorate in the body’s system means poorer organ and brain development in babies and toddlers. In order to reduce perchlorate levels in the body, you can install a reverse osmosis filter in your home’s drinking water system. You can also help to neutralize perchlorate by making sure you have enough iodine in your system. Iodized salt is a good source of dietary iodine.
Atrazine is an herbicide used in the growth of many cornfields and is found in the water supply because of crops and farming runoff. It has been known to feminize male frogs and is believed to contribute to breast tumors, prostate cancer and inflammation as well as delay puberty. The only way to avoid exposure to atrazine is to drink filtered water and avoid anything but organically grown corn products.
Lead is a heavy metal that is especially toxic to children and pregnant women. Lead leads to many different hormonal changes in the body as well as to birth defects. Lead can cause low IQ, miscarriages, increases in blood pressure, preterm birth, nervous system difficulties, and damage to the kidneys.
In animal studies, lead was found to decrease the level of sex hormones, which can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in the reproductive system. Lead can be found in old chipped paint that can be ingested by children as well as leach into the water supply. You can avoid getting lead in your system by eating healthy, avoiding exposure to old, chipped paint and by using purified water that filters out heavy metals like lead.
Chemicals used to make fire retardant materials have been linked to breast milk contaminated with these chemicals, thyroid hormone disruption, and lower IQ in children. Fire retardants are hard to avoid and, while many have been banned by the government, they are still used in products, leading to hormonal problems. It is relatively impossible to avoid getting flame retardant chemicals in your system. You can reduce your levels by getting rid of house dust, which has many of these chemicals in it. If you plan to replace your carpet or reupholster furniture, you should be aware that flame-retardants in the padding of these items could get in your body as part of the replacement of these items in your home. Flame retardants are also found in mattresses and other household items.
Arsenic is prevalent in many foods and drinking water, even though it is not considered lethal in the concentrations found in these products. Small amounts of arsenic can lead to various types of cancer, such as bladder, lung, and skin cancer. It also interferes with the body’s glucocorticoids so that you can expect weight changes, a poor immune system, wasting of protein, insulin resistance, childhood growth retardation, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. You can reduce the amount of arsenic in your system by drinking filtered water.
Mercury is a toxic metal that has been found in many species of fish and exists in the ocean. Pregnant women should avoid mercury as it can cause poor brain development in the fetus. Mercury binds to some female hormones, leading to an irregular menstrual cycle and interferes with ovulation. In both sexes, mercury is linked to the development of diabetes by binding to and damaging the islet cells in the pancreas.
PFCs (Perfluorinated Chemicals)
These are the chemicals that are used to produce non-stick cooking items. It is so prevalent in the environment that virtually everyone has some of it in their bodies. Some PFCs cannot be degraded in the environment so that it has remained in the food and water supply for many decades now.
PFCs have been linked to low sperm quality, kidney damage, low birth weight, thyroid disease, and high cholesterol. It also interferes with sex hormone levels in both men and women. The only way to reduce exposure to PFCs is to avoid using non-stick pans and the water-resistant coating often put on furniture, carpets and some clothing.
These pesticides are commonly used on crops to avoid pests on food items grown in our nation’s croplands. It has been shown to interfere with testosterone and thyroid hormones so that both women and men should avoid products containing it.
The best way to avoid organophosphate pesticides is to eat organic foods and to choose fruits and vegetables that have been thoroughly washed or preferably, not grown with any applications of organophosphates.
Glycol ethers are found in cosmetics, brake fluid, cleaning products and paint solvents. It is believed to adversely affect the reproductive organs of fetuses in mothers who are exposed to it.
Ethyl glycols can affect the blood and the sperm count in males. Kids exposed to glycol ethers have an increased risk of allergies and asthma, especially if it is found in paint in children’s bedrooms. Men who are regularly exposed to glycol ethers have been found to have a shrinkage in the testicles.
While modern science has developed an amazing array of helpful products to make life easier, it has also introduced chemicals into our everyday lives that are proving harmful to health and the environment. It’s wise to be cautious and to live as chemical-free as possible for the best chance at good health.