What Are Endocrine Disruptors and How to Reduce Your Exposure

Your endocrine system is comprised of a series of glands that secrete hormones and receptors (the latter of which respond to hormones). When the endocrine system is functioning well, it helps to ensure that all the body’s organ systems are working together effectively, regulating processes like metabolism, reproduction, and growth.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that work similarly to hormones and thereby interfere with the way your natural hormones work. Consequently, endocrine disruptors can have a devastating influence on your bodily functions.

Many credible studies link endocrine disruptors to an increased risk of cancer, reduced immune function, cognitive deficits and fertility problems. However, since these chemicals are found almost everywhere, you may be confused about how to avoid them. Here are twelve tips that will reduce your exposure.

1. Get a good vacuum

Although household products typically attract the most attention in discussions of endocrine disruptors, the surprising truth is that dust and grime around your house will expose you to hazardous chemicals daily. As a result, having a powerful vacuum can work wonders for your overall health.

2. Replace your household cleaners

Most common household detergents and dishwashing soaps are packed full of endocrine disruptors, but there are better choices. A quick online search can even teach you how to make your cleaners from scratch, and this option may also save you a bit of extra money.

3. Change your shower curtain

Lots of shower curtains expose you to unnecessarily high levels of BPA, so get rid of your old shower curtain and look for an environmentally friendly alternative. Safer shower curtains tend to be advertised now due to increasing awareness of chemicals like endocrine disruptors.

4. Buy organic food

There are many compelling reasons to opt for organic foods, but you can certainly add a reduction in the potential for endocrine disruption to the list. Pesticides and herbicides almost always contain hormone-mimicking chemicals that can interrupt your body’s natural processes.

Although DDT can no longer be used in the United States, plenty of the products you see in stores come from overseas, where DDT may still be used. Meanwhile, factory-farmed meat should also be avoided, as the organic alternatives are less likely to have endocrine disruptors in their fat.

5. Examine the labels of personal care products

Shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, shower gels, and skin moisturizers often contain phthalates, which have an endocrine-disrupting influence on the body. Parabens, MEA, and TEA are other common offenders, so scan all your labels and replace any products with endocrine disruptors on the list.

6. Get rid of old furniture

Experts caution that furniture made more than ten years ago is highly likely to be covered in particular flame-retardant chemicals that contain dangerous endocrine disruptors. So figure out which chairs and sofas were made more than a decade ago, and (unless you have good reason to believe they weren’t treated with endocrine disruptors) replace them with modern, minimally-treated alternatives.

7. Store your food in glass containers

Most plastic containers contain endocrine-disruptors that are capable of leaching. Start storing your ingredients and leftovers in glass containers instead to avoid this risk. Similarly, use microwave-safe glass bowls or plates to heat any food, avoiding plastic altogether.

8. Be careful with cosmetics

Although cosmetics are supposed to be thoroughly vetted by the FDA, many cosmetic products still contain a striking array of endocrine disruptors, so start looking into organic cosmetic companies. Although the price tag may be larger, the peace of mind that avoids toxic chemicals is well worth it.

9. Look for better soaps

Liquid soaps can be very convenient, but most of them are a source of triclosan, a chemical that is a known endocrine disruptor. As an alternative, buy some castile soap instead or shop for liquid soaps that market themselves as safer and more environmentally friendly

10. Don’t buy bottled water

There are environmental and ethical reasons to stop buying bottled water, but one of the most important reasons to quit drinking bottled water is your health. Plastic bottles are made with BPA, so use filtered tap water instead.

11. Mistrust anything with ‘fragrance’ on the label

While the word ‘fragrance’ sounds benign or even appealing, current regulations allow companies to print this ingredient on a label no matter how many chemicals were used to create the scent. In some cases, thousands of extra chemicals are added to fragranced items, which have endocrine-disrupting qualities.

12. Be wary of old paint

Finally, if you have an older house, the paint on the walls may contain lead. This endocrine disruptor is lethal, so it is important to wear a mask when getting rid of the paint. But, again, keeping your house up-to-date, clean and freshly painted is an excellent way to protect yourself.

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