Lately, I have read more and more concerning research about what the damaging chemicals called “endocrine disruptors” are doing to our health.
What are endocrine disruptors?
These are chemicals, either natural or man-made, that interfere with our endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of glands that produce and secrete hormones. These are chemical substances produced in the body that regulate the activity of cells or organs. These hormones regulate the body’s growth, metabolism – the physical and chemical processes of the body, as well as sexual development and function.
Endocrine disruptors are linked to developmental, reproductive, brain, immune and other problems.
There are 3 ways in which they might work in our body: by mimicking hormones but working differently, they can block those hormones altogether or they can bind to the receptors and leave us with lots of hormones which can cause harm in high levels.
A concerning fact is that they tested the umbilical cord and found about 150 toxic chemicals in it that goes straight to your baby. A study was done on how endocrine disruptors in utero are linked to breast cancer later in life. You can read more about the study here.
What are some common endocrine disruptors?
Bisphenol A (BPA): used to make plastic food containers, paper receipts, water bottles and epoxy resins. The BPA leaches into our food and water, especially if we put warm food, wash with hot water or if the sun heats these bottles.
BPA has been proven to compromise egg quality, interferes with meiosis and causes chromosomal abnormalities in eggs. It also interferes with the hormones that coordinate the reproductive system. They suspect that these toxic effects are wide-ranging and include: diabetes, obesity, heart disease and impact the reproductive system of infants exposed during pregnancy.
BPA interferes with the activity of estrogen, testosterone and thyroid hormones.
BPA’s chemical structure is similar to that of estrogen, a female sex hormone that plays a key role in ovulation. As a result, BPA can bind to estrogen receptors in humans, leading to several significant effects.
“BPA is a chemical contaminant that acts as an endocrine disruptor, causing cellular oxidative stress [an imbalance between oxidant and antioxidant molecules], which results in damage to gametes and embryos,” said Hornos Carneiro, who conducted the study under the supervision of HMS Professor Monica Paola Colaiácovo.
Here is the full article.
Phthalates also impair egg quality and interfere with fertility. They are used to make plastics more flexible and can be found in some food packaging, processed food in the form of DEHP, cosmetics, cleaning products, fabric softeners, perfumes, nail polish, fragrances, children’s toys and medical devices.
High doses of phthalates stop ovulation as they decrease estrogen production, they can cause miscarriages, affect embryo survival and sperm quality.
Phthalates can alter the levels and activity of hormones in the body. This group of chemicals was officially recognized as a reproductive toxin in the EU and the FDA also acknowledged that they are endocrine disruptors. Active forms of phthalates have been detected in 95% of pregnant women.
Young boys who were exposed in the womb to certain phthalate chemicals were more likely to have autism traits at ages 3 and 4, according to a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
Dioxins: these are produced as a byproduct in herbicide production and paper bleaching, found in tampons and released into the environment during waste burning and wildfires.
And there are so many more!
Remember that these chemicals not only affect your fertility and future embryos but also the ones you have now. One that is really scary is the effect it has on our immune system that is so important, particularly these days.