You might be surprised to learn just how frequently you’re exposing yourself to secret killers throughout the day. We’re talking about the surprising number of products that play hell with your hormones.
In this age of consumer convenience, the cheapest materials – or the most effective in some cases – are used to provide us with the best value. But the problem is that many of these materials pose serious threats to your health.
1. Canned Goods
Why are canned goods first on this list of hormone disruptors? Because they’re everywhere. Grocery stores are packed with aisle after aisle of canned goods.
The problem is with can’s lining. The majority of canning companies use bisphenol (BPA) as a protective lining.
With the media attention BPA has received in recent years, you’ve probably heard of it. But what you might not know is how it affects your hormones. And those effects are not good.
You see, your body mistakes BPA for estrogen, and when your body tries to use this imposter, things go badly. In fact, studies have linked BPA to maladies such as:
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Early puberty
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Although the FDA considers BPA safe for consumer products, government studies have found that as many as 93% of Americans have BPA in their bodies.
So, what can you do?
Well, avoid canned foods. Opt for fresh foods whenever possible. But if you simply cannot avoid it, do some research. There are several health-conscious companies using BPA-free cans. Most will be found in the organic section of your grocery store.
2. Produce from Modern Farms
We just suggested opting for fresh foods. Unfortunately, you’ve got to be smart about shopping the produce section, too.
The big culprit here is atrazine, a common herbicide used in modern farming – especially on corn. We use atrazine because it works. It works very well. But research is beginning to expose its consequences.
Studies have shown that atrazine interferes with your body’s androgens – testosterone, for example – and has been proven to feminize male frogs. And while we don’t know the full impact of this chemical on our bodies, many believe atrazine is linked to:
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Delayed puberty
Obviously, going organic will reduce exposure to atrazine. But that won’t entirely remove the threat, and that brings us to the next source of hormone disruptors…
3. Drinking Water
Yes, chemicals used in modern farming are washed away by the rain and runoff into the sources of our drinking water. And atrazine is only one of the potentially harmful herbicides and pesticides used in modern farming.
The health risks of these chemicals go beyond hormones, too. Scientists have discovered direct connections between certain pesticides and various illnesses and diseases.
These pesticides include organophosphates, which attack insects’ nervous systems. Never mind that the Nazis used organophosphates to create nerve agent weapons. That should tell us everything we need to know about these chemicals.
And yet the agricultural industry went ahead and designed pesticides from organophosphates that remain in heavy use today.
Buying a water filter certified to remove these chemicals is your best means of prevention.
4. Shampoo, Conditioner, Cosmetics
Phthalates are widely used in a variety of personal care products for different reasons. In shampoos, conditioners, and even some air fresheners, phthalates are often the chemicals implied by “fragrance” in the list of ingredients. And in many nail polishes, phthalates help to create the plastic-like shell.
Studies show phthalates can induce hormonal imbalances. But here’s where things get really weird…
Scientists now believe these chemicals literally tell your cells to die. Seriously. While several billion cells die every day in your body, phthalates seem to focus on testicular cells, instructing them to die well before their time. And this has been linked to a number of possible problems for men:
- Lower sperm counts
- Immobile or less mobile sperm
- Male genital birth defects
But wait! There’s more. Some researchers believe phthalates may also encourage diabetes and thyroid problems.
Unfortunately, salmon (and a few other fish) are regularly found to contain abnormally high amounts of mercury. We all that mercury is a deadly toxin, and it’s an element that occurs naturally. However, over a century of burning coal has sent mercury into the atmosphere where it rains down into lakes, oceans, and streams.
Smaller, less deadly amounts of mercury can wreak hormonal havoc on women’s menstrual cycles, disrupting ovulation and more. And pregnant women should take extra precaution when consuming seafood. These trace quantities of mercury have been shown to collect in the fetus’s brain during development.
On a positive note, you can still have your sushi. Just be sure to look for wild-caught salmon.
6. Fire Retardants
How often are we really exposed to fire retardants, you ask? The answer is every single day. Even though many of the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) used for fire retardants in everyday products have been banned, the problem remains all around us.
Your body thinks PBDEs are thyroid hormones. This poses a host of serious health concerns, as well as decreasing intelligence. And these chemicals have been showing up in breastmilk in alarming quantities.
Even with the most dangerous PBDEs now restricted, researchers aren’t entirely sure about the long-term consequences of those available for use. What is worse is that the most dangerous PBDEs didn’t magically disappear from our homes with the ban.
The worst PBDEs were used until recently as fire retardants in carpet, furniture, mattresses, and other home products and construction materials. In other words, they’re going to be with us for quite some time.
The best you can do to reduce exposure is:
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter
- Do not repurpose old upholstered furniture
- Be thorough and cautious when replacing carpet
Final Word on Hormone Disruptors
This is by no means a complete list of the hormone disruptors threatening our health. There are many others that persist despite our best efforts to reduce exposure – e.g. lead, arsenic, glycol ether, etc.
But the six we’ve listed here are the ones that seem most persistent. Not to mention, they’re also among the hormone disruptors of which many Americans aren’t even aware.