10 Ways to Avoid Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals & Why You Need to Start Now

While modern advancements in organic chemistry have led to countless breakthrough conveniences and life-saving medical treatments over the last 100 years, many of these same synthetic chemicals are simultaneously but quietly causing widespread harm to human health.

Helping people see and understand this danger as a serious risk to avoid has become a personal cause for me.  You see, in 2009, I lost my sister to brain cancer on her 51st birthday. She didn’t get to see 52.

Patty embodied life. She lit up a room by her nature. She was generous and there for you before you even realized you needed the help. She inspired me as a mom, and when I had children a decade after she did, she guided me with loving, meaningful advice and direction. My kids adored her – they couldn’t help it – she was fun, playful, and spontaneous.

Grappling with the unfathomable mystery of her brain cancer diagnosis, battle, and untimely death at 51 is largely what motivated me to create Greener Cleaner LIVING. How does a fit and healthy 51-year-old woman develop life-threatening glioblastoma and die within a month of being diagnosed? The cause of this rare cancer is not known; but like many other forms of cancer, autoimmune disease, and chronic illness, it is associated with certain genetic changes and environmental factors. So if she did not inherit it, then what exactly in her environment played a role? Did this happen a long time ago, over time, or just recently? Could it be the air she breathed, the water she drank, the food she ate, home furnishings, the products she used to clean, or cosmetics and beauty items? Or an overload of multiple toxic exposures?

We will never know.  But as the living, we can grapple with this reality and do everything we can to prevent serious illness or disease from befalling our families. Avoiding endocrine-disrupting chemicals is a great place to start.

According to The Endocrine Society, a professional society of endocrine scientists and medical providers, research shows that plastics pose a threat to public health because they contain a host of hazardous, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that leach and contaminate humans and the environment:

  • EDCs are significant contributors to environmentally related diseases, and plastics are a pervasive and widespread source of exposure.
  • Many common plastics contain and leach hazardous chemicals, including EDCs, that are harmful to human health. These chemicals disturb the body’s hormone systems and can cause cancer, diabetes, reproductive disorders, neurological impairments of developing fetuses and children, and death.
  • Conservative estimates point to more than a thousand manufactured chemicals in use today that are EDCs.
  • As plastic production increases, rates of acute and chronic diseases and deaths resulting from exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in plastics are anticipated to rise.
  • Seven harmful chemical types in plastic include bisphenols (like BPA), alkylphenols (found in cosmetics, paints, and personal care products), phthalates (personal care products, food packaging, children’s toys), perfluorinated chemicals (stain coatings and food wrappers), brominated flame retardants (furniture and carpeting), dioxin (recycled plastic from e-waste) and UV stabilizers (food packaging and plastic bottles).

As you can see, there is an entire array of man-made chemicals now classified as “endocrine disrupting chemicals” or EDCs, found in products like plastics and fragrances, that can mimic hormones and interfere with or disrupt the critical functions of our endocrine glands.

If you recall from your high school biology class – our bodies are run by a network of hormones and glands that regulate everything we do. Most commonly thought of with puberty and reproduction, the endocrine system plays a critical role in all phases of human development, metabolism, and behavior.

The bad news is that these ubiquitous synthetic chemicals disrupt our body’s delicate regulation by imitating our natural hormones.  Because we are exposed to these chemicals constantly, the daily disruptions can lead to developmental and chronic health issues.  

When are we at the most risk? The answer is at any age. We are especially vulnerable to the adverse effect of EDCs during phases of accelerated development when the impact is often irreversible – in utero and during childhood.  As adults and parents it is imperative we do all that we can to limit our family’s exposure.

So What Can We Do?

We are not without recourse.   The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) provides a list of the ways to steer clear of EDCs:

  1. Wash your hands. This is simple and effective, especially important before eating! Even touching our shopping receipts exposes us to EDCs, in the form of BPA.
  2. Dust and vacuum often. Flame retardant chemicals are used in many everyday household products and collect in our household dust.
  3. Chooses fragrance-free products. Fragrance is usually a mix of hundreds of ingredients, including phthalates. It even lurks in diapers and garbage bags.
  4. Get smart about plastics. We can’t avoid it, but we can make some easy swaps. Think glass food storage, reusable lunch bags, etc.
  5. Limit canned food. Whether it’s labeled BPA-free or not, cans are likely lined with a similar chemical to prevent corrosion. Any time you can choose fresh, frozen, or dried foods over cans is a solid preventative measure. 
  6. Choose pesticide-free food. Certain pesticides are linked to hormone disruption. So eat organic-labeled food that is certified to be free of pesticide residue. As a general rule, try to eat food that is as close to whole as possible. When you can, avoid food packaging. When preparing food, ditch non-stick pans and use stainless steel or cast iron instead.
  7. Filter your tap water. Drinking tap water reduces exposure to BPA in cans and plastic bottles. But tap water contains EDCs too, so run water through a certified water filter.
  8. Rethink kids’ cosmetics. Kids don’t need cosmetics yet there are kid-related lotions, potions, gloss, and glitter – all of which can contain EDCs. Just say no and let that perfect baby skin be. 
  9. Clean smarter. We can actually introduce indoor air pollutants in the form of harsh chemical products when we clean. Use safer plant-based products or household staples like vinegar and baking soda.
  10. Speak Out! Tell companies, agencies, and policymakers we need systems to make sure toxic chemicals like EDCs stay out of our homes, food, and water in the first place.

Want to create toxic-free surroundings in your home, office, and community so you and your family can live your best? Use this link for a complementary guide for my top ten tips to help eliminate harmful and unseen toxins in your day-to-day living environment. 

We can’t eliminate all risks in our lives, but when it comes to EDCs, we can detoxify our bodies and clean up our homes, products, and daily surroundings. Learning about and reducing toxic exposures can truly help us to create a thriving environment for our families to live our best lives.

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