Endocrine Disruptors

An endocrine disruptor is a chemical that interferes with a hormone’s action. One example is the EDC diethystilbestrol (DES). DES was prescribed to women to control nausea during pregnancy, but, unfortunately, the world later learned that DES interferes with key hormone actions in gestation, and led to serious birth defects.

Should we be concerned about endocrine disruptors?

Yes. Research on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) is still in the early stages. From what we know so far, EDCs can have long-lasting effects on our bodies and, likely, our children’s, through altering the way our DNA is expressed. For instance, big studies looking a large populations of people have shown a relationship between exposure to certain EDCs and increased weight and higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Research in mice has linked exposure to certain EDCs during pregnancy to changes in DNA expression in offspring, favoring the development of fat cells at the expense of bone cells.

What endocrine disruptors are used in household products, especially baby/kids products?

Check product labels for:

  • Phthalates or bis-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)
  • Bisphenol A (BPA)- used in many plastics and containers
  • Parabens- used as a preservative
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)- found in fire retardants. PBDEs can affect thyroid hormone functioning and has been detected in breastmilk.

There are many more EDCs, & many are still undiscovered. The World Health Organization has more information.

How can we reduce exposure to endocrine disruptors?

  • Wash produce
  • Buy organic food
  • Avoid parabens and phthalates, often found in lotions, sunscreens, & synthetic fragrances
  • Avoid added sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup
  • Limit food additives like artificial sweeteners, phytoestrogens, and preservatives
  • Avoid vinyl pillow and mattress protectors
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