Endocrine disruptor chemicals: conclusive evidence that they interfere with your hormones! Time to take action!

What is it going to take to get industry to remove harmful chemicals from products that we buy and agriculture to stop spraying detrimental pesticides on our produce? How much scientific evidence is enough??

According to the Executive Summary of the Endocrine Society’s 2nd Scientific Statement on Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals (EDCs), we have enough evidence that certain chemicals and pesticides interact with our endocrine and neuroendocrine systems…and not in a positive way!

What exactly is an EDC? An endocrine disruptor chemical is an external chemical or mix of chemicals that interferes with any aspect of hormone action. Your endocrine system is your body’s interface to the environment, and thus is very susceptible to EDCs. The developing fetus is especially vulnerable. Unfortunately, mixtures of very low dose EDCs can affect your endocrine system. So it is not just a situation of high exposure to one chemical. The EDCs that have the strongest association with endocrine related diseases are BPA, phthalates, POPs (persistent organic pollutants), and pesticides. ** See below to find out where these chemicals are found in your living environment.

So why is this important to you?

Thinking about starting a family? Or having trouble conceiving?
Has your physician asked you about environmental exposure to chemicals?
EDCs (especially BPA, POPs, and pesticides) affect female reproductive health. In my last blog, I wrote about why it is so important to cleanse before you try to get pregnant. Pre-pregnancy cleanse. According to the Executive Summary, EDCs impact ovarian development, structure, and function, leading to abnormal ovulation and and fertility in animals. Some EDCs adversely affect the uterus and vagina in both animals and humans. Disorders in women that are associated with EDCs include PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, preterm birth, and adverse birth outcomes. And in humans, epidemiological data support association between higher exposure to EDCs during development with decreased IQ and increased neurodevelopmental problems.

And men are not exempt! EDCs act as anti-androgens, (i.e. anti-testosterone) and also as xenoestrogens in men. Low testosterone and higher estrogen in a male is not good for fertility, as well as libido! Animal studies demonstrate clearly that EDCs disrupt the development of the male reproductive tract. And according to the review, semen quality in men is on the decline globally.

Having trouble with your thyroid gland? I have worked with a lot of clients with thyroid issues. Thyroid disruptors include PCBs, other POPS, phthalates, perchlorate, and BPA. Environmental chemicals need to be considered. And if you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, be in the know that epidemiological data show cognitive deficits in children exposed to thyroid disruptors prenatally.

Have you tried just about everything and are still unable to lose weight?
The Scientific Review also placed emphasis on all the new emerging research on EDCs and obesity, Type II Diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, in animal studies, developmental exposures to EDCs disrupt energy balance leading to obesity. So the impact of EDCs on the fetus is predisposing an animal to obesity before it is even born! EDCs also alter insulin action leading to Type II Diabetes in animal studies. And there is increasing human evidence that EDCs are associated with obesity, Type II Diabetes, and CVD. In my RENEW class, we go into more detail how these EDCs affect your metabolism and even the size of your fat cells!

You may be more familiar with EDCs and their association with hormone related cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer. However, certain classes of EDCs, such as pesticides, Agent Orange, PCBs, and BPA are now being associated with prostate cancer. If you have family history of any of these cancers, please consider the impact of EDCs and talk to your health care practitioner.

What can we do? Education is the first step. Please share this article with your family, friends, and colleagues. The more we are educated on this topic, the greater our voice to influence industry and environmental policy. And please join my RENEW class in January where you learn to reduce your exposure to common environmental toxins and eat foods/take nutrients that help you get these chemicals out of your body so that you can get your health back! RENEW Class Details

**BPA is used primarily to make plastics, and is largely found in plastic baby and water bottles, sports equipment, lining of most food cans, CDs and DVDs, medical and dental devices, and thermal receipts. Phthalates are mainly used as plasticizers, to make plastic more flexible and durable. Phthalates are used in a variety of household applications such as shower curtains, vinyl upholstery, adhesives, floor tiles, food containers and wrappers, and cleaning materials. Personal-care items containing phthalates include perfume, eye shadow, moisturizer, nail polish, liquid soap, and hair spray. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation. In other words, they just don’t go away! Because of their persistence, POPs bioaccumulate with potential significant impacts on human health and the environment. POPs include pesticides, insecticides, PCBs, DDT (banned decades ago!), and dioxins, which are typically emitted from the burning of hospital waste, municipal waste, and hazardous waste, along with automobile emissions, coal, and wood.


How Environmental Chemicals Affect Our Hormones and Cause Us to Gain Weight

I recently was interviewed by Robin Nielsen, Chief Health Officer for Insulite Health, on the topic of how environmental chemicals affect our hormones and cause us to gain weight. Insulite Health provides a support community for women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). The prevalence of PCOS is up to 10% in women ages 12 – 45 years and occurs in post menopausal women as well. Many women have PCOS and have never been diagnosed. Certain chemicals have been linked to the hormone imbalances that occur in PCOS. Listen to the interview here: https://www.pcos.com/pcos-inspiration-hour-recordings/

Chemicals that impact the secretion and metabolism of our hormones responsible for regulation of our internal environment, reproduction and development are called endocrine disruptors. Obesogens fall into this class, and specifically disrupt our hormones related to appetite, satiety and metabolism. I will use these terms interchangeably in this article. As I was reviewing the research on these obesogens/endocrine disruptors, it became very apparent to me that we need to pay a lot more attention to how these chemicals are affecting our well being.

Research to date suggests different obesogenic compounds may have different mechanisms of action, some affecting the number of fat cells, others the size of fat cells, and still others the hormones that affect appetite, how full you feel, food preferences, and energy metabolism. And these effects can be passed down through generations. (1)

Where are these obesogens/endocrine disruptors found? Unfortunately, they are found just about everywhere. The list is long and some of the chemicals persist in the environment for decades, long after they are banned! DDT was banned in the US decades ago, but has a half life of 20 to 30 years, so it still persists in our environment today. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are found in dairy, fish, and meats and were also banned in the US decades ago. Obesogens are also found in solvents (i.e. grease cleaners and paints), pesticides found in foods, parabens found in personal care products like shampoos and lotions, and BPA (bisphenol A) found in plastic bottles, thermal receipts, the lining of most food cans and medical devices.

As I was sifting through the research, I was particularly fascinated by the impact of BPA (bisphenol A) as an obesogen. Animal studies show that “BPA reduces the number of fat cells but programs them to incorporate more fat, so there are fewer but very large fat cells.” (2) And women with PCOS have been found to have higher levels of BPA, which means they are not properly detoxifying BPA. (3) BPA is a big one…how do we decrease our exposure and get it out of our bodies??

Practical recommendations to decrease your exposure to BPA and get it out of your body:

1. Get a good sweat on for at least 15 minutes three times a week. Sweat helps you excrete BPA! So dance, exercise, take a sauna…whatever gets you to sweat!! (4)

2. Avoid touching receipts after using hand sanitizers, lotions, or creams. BPA is found in receipts. Using a hand sanitizer before touching a receipt was found to increase absorption of BPA by 100 fold. (5)

3. Eat less processed foods and more whole foods. A study found that families who ate a fresh food diet (organic meals with no canned food and minimal plastic packaging) for three days and stored their food in glass and stainless steel containers decreased the average level of BPA in their urine by over 60%. When these families returned to their conventional diets, their BPA levels went back up to pre-intervention levels. (6) Just three days on a whole foods diet impacted levels of BPA!!

4. Eat probiotic rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir. An animal study found that two common probiotic stains, bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casie, helped the body detoxify by reducing the absorption of BPA by facilitating increased excretion of BPA in the feces. (7) So in other words, probiotics helped poop out the BPA!

5. Avoid drinking out of plastic water bottles. Use glass or stainless steel bottles instead. Also avoid storing food or microwaving in plastic containers.

1,2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279464/
3. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2013/828532/
4. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2012/185731/
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25337790
6. http://www.silentspring.org/tooclosetohome/food-packaging/
7. ] Kenji Oishi, Tadashi Sato, Wakae Yokoi, Yasuto Yoshida, Masahiko Ito, Haruji Sawada. Effect of probiotics, Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei, on bisphenol A exposure in rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 Jun;72(6):1409-15. Epub 2008 Jun 7. PMID: 18540113