Hormones are dynamic and can alter everything about the way you feel, look, behave, age, and prevent illness with age. Hormones act as chemical messengers that regulate the entire endocrine system including the brain (pituitary), the thyroid and the adrenal glands.
I have spent the majority of my career as a healthcare provider training other medical professionals to test and balance hormones and helping women and men achieve optimal hormone balance. This process of balancing hormones also involves looking at the possible toxins and hormone disruptors each person comes in contact with.
There are many things in our world that we encounter on a daily basis that can threaten to upset this balance. These include xenoestrogens—synthetic hormones that mimic the ones produced by our body. Xenoestrogens are the result of excessive exposure to environmental toxins from car fumes, household cleaners, personal care products, and even food and drinks.
When xenoestrogens disrupt our hormonal balance, the endocrine system is unable to function properly and may cause painful periods, long menstrual cycles (36 days or more), breast lumps, endometriosis, fibroids, infertility, and the spread of breast cancer cells.
Another result might be male estrogen dominance, causing men to have more feminine features or symptoms. Xenoestrogens in men could be the culprit of low libido, low sperm count or infertility, and andropause symptoms like mood swings, depression, weight gain, and blood sugar imbalance. The list continues—heart conditions, atherosclerosis, benign prostate hypertrophy, and prostate cancer, usually affecting men around the ages of 40 to 55.
The Dirty Dozen Disruptors to Avoid
- 93% of Americans have BPA in their bodies.
- Linked to breast cancer and other cancers, obesity, early puberty, reproductive problems, heart disease.
- Do not use BPA products. Instead, look for BPA-free products and plastics.
- These are powerful carcinogens living in the body for long periods, affecting the communication of hormones for men and women, disrupting and altering the immune system.
- Look for organic meats and poultry
3. Atrazine Herbicide
- Exposure to even low levels can alter fertility, cause breast tumors, delayed puberty, prostate inflammation, and cancer.
- Consider buying organic produce and drinking filtered water
- Exposure to Phthalates can create early death of testicular cells, cause hormone imbalance, low sperm count, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid abnormalities.
- Avoid plastic containers, children’s plastic toys, plastic wrap from PVC, fragrances, and many body products.
- It is a rocket fuel contaminate that competes with iodine, a necessity for your thyroid. It leads to low thyroid symptoms (lowered metabolism and weight gain).
- Consider filtered water or reverse osmosis filtered water, eating iodized salts, or adding more kelp to the diet.
6. Fire Retardants
- PBDE’s are persistent chemicals that can imitate thyroid hormones, causing your body to downregulate the production of thyroid. This creates fatigue, brain fog, and weight gain.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, and replace old carpets and the padding underneath, which may have this toxin in them.
- Lead has been linked to high blood pressure, premature birth, kidney damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, nervous system issues, brain damage and disruption to the bodies stress system causing anxiety and depression.
- Keep your home clean and well maintained. Remove or fix crumbling old paint. Drink filtered water and eat clean food to increase killer cells in the body and to absorb less lead in the body.
- Arsenic is lurking in food and water. If you eat enough, it will outright kill you. Smaller amounts may cause skin problems, bladder and lung problems, or cancer. Arsenic causes hormone imbalance in every system, leading to weight gain, insulin resistance, immunosuppression, and diabetes.
- Use filtered water that filters arsenic.
- It is a naturally occurring but toxic metal in the air and ocean through burning coal. Pregnant women are most at risk. Mercury wreaks havoc on the menstrual cycles of women and causes infertility and blood glucose imbalances.
- Eat sustainable seafood with lots of healthy fats. Wild salmon and farmed trout are good choices.
10. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCS)
- 99% of Americans have PFCs in their bodies. It is linked to low sperm counts, kidney disease, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, and sex hormone imbalances.
- Avoid non-stick pans, as well as stain-resistant and water resistance coatings on clothing, furniture, and carpets.
11. Organophosphates Pesticides
- The Nazis used this in huge quantities for chemical warfare. Since WWII, it has been used as a pesticide and is still among the most commonly used today.
- Buy organic produce.
12. Glycol Ethers
- These cause shrunken testicles, infertility issues, blood abnormalities, and are often found in paint, cleaning products, brake fluid, and cosmetics.
See EWG.org for the complete list of acceptable list of cosmetics.
- Don’t use a microwave to heat up your food.
- Cook foods in cast iron, stainless steel, or lead-free glass cookware, instead of non-stick cookware.
- Avoid hot liquids in foam Styrofoam cups.
- Use stainless steel water containers, instead of plastic ones.
- Minimize the use of harsh pesticides on your lawn.
- Look for feminine products made from organic cotton and avoid any that contain dioxin.
- Minimize your use of nail polish and any kind of solvent.
- Invest in a water purification system for every water source in your house.
- If you are trying to conceive, get pregnant, or are breastfeeding, avoid inhaling industrial strength glue and other chemicals.
Originally published in the Fall 2019 issue of Southern Oregon Magazine.