Our modern world is full of wonderful conveniences that many of us can't imagine being without. Automobiles, cell phones, computers, and television, as just a few examples, benefit our lives in many positive ways. We love the convenience of microwaving a meal, grabbing a bottle of water on the way to the gym, and choosing from endless products on supermarket shelves. But, as time goes on, we are beginning to recognize the drawbacks that accompany our modern conveniences, especially those in the form of harmful chemicals. Endocrine disrupting chemicals known as xenoestrogens offer a prime example.
Estrogen, like every hormone naturally produced by the body, is a vital chemical messenger that transports a signal from one cell to another. However, xenoestrogens, a group of chemicals present in the environment and the products we use every day, mimic the effects of estrogen and compromise normal hormone function. Combined with the estrogen naturally produced by the body, these foreign chemicals create an excess of estrogen. Since we know that breast cancer develops in the presence of estrogen maintained over a prolonged period of time, this puts both women and men at risk for developing the disease.
Research shows that xenoestrogens are not only linked to high rates of breast cancer, but also contribute to endometriosis, precocious puberty (unusually early onset of puberty), infertility, and miscarriages. In men, xenoestrogens are believed to contribute to decreased sperm counts, and prostate and testicular cancers. Other health problems such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, and behavioral abnormalities in children, may also be linked to xenoestrogens interfering with the estrogens naturally produced by the body.
In relation to breast cancer, organochlorines are among the most concerning of the xenoestrogens. Organochlorines, or compounds which contain chlorine and carbon, do not easily breakdown in the environment and accumulate in high concentrations in the fat of humans. Organochlorines are produced as by-products of industrial processes involving chlorine, organic matter and heat, such as bleached paper, burning of hazardous, municipal and medical waste, and chemical production. They are also found in pesticides, pharmaceuticals, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and much more.
Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) are yet another class of endocrine disrupting chemicals. They are commonly used as detergents in many industrial processes (including the production of oil, pulp and paper, synthetic and natural textiles and leather) and common household products. NPE'S are used as additives in latex paints and cosmetics, as anti-oxidants and stabilizers in some plastics and in some pesticides. Nonoxynol-9, a form of NPEs, is the active ingredient in contraceptive spermicides.
Clearly, we are constantly exposed to endocrine disrupting xenoestrogens making them impossible to avoid altogether. However, with education and awareness, each and every step taken to identify and minimize our exposure to these and other toxic chemicals will contribute to our future health and that of the planet. Simple steps can make a huge difference, like choosing a food-grade stainless steel water bottle over plastic and/or switching to chemical free personal care products. Each positive choice we make, no matter how small, matters. Now is the time to begin.
What can you do right now to make a positive impact on your health and reduce your risk for developing breast cancer and other diseases? Begin by examining the products you use on a daily basis. Check the ingredients in your personal care products like shampoo, conditioner, facial care products, deodorant, etc. where many xenoestrogens are commonly found. Make the chemical, fragrance, gluten and GMO free Organic Excellence products your healthy choice.
Reduce your exposure to chlorine by using a chlorine filter shower head and choosing unbleached products. Limit your use of plastics, especially drinking from plastic water bottles and microwaving in plastic containers. Learn to identify and minimize your exposure to as many xenoestrogens as possible.
Identifying chemicals shown to have estrogenic effects:
Guidelines to minimize your personal exposure to xenoestrogens:
Guidelines to protect the environment:
Medical Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed medical doctor. Organic Excellence does not diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect a mental or physical health condition, please see your healthcare provider.