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10 Everyday Items Secretly Sabotaging Your Health: How to Dodge Hidden Hormone Disruptors

10 Everyday Items Secretly Sabotaging Your Health: How to Dodge Hidden Hormone Disruptors - The Sabi

By Hilary Metcalfe


Have you ever thought about the ingredients lurking in your everyday purchases?  That receipt you toss in your bag, the chic top you just bought, and even the cleaning products under your sink could harbour a silent threat: endocrine disruptors (EDCs).  These chemicals can wreak havoc on your delicate hormonal balance, potentially worsening PMS symptoms, impacting your fertility, and even increasing your risk of certain cancers.  Intrigued? Scared? Keep reading to learn how these hidden invaders might be affecting your health and what you can do to take control.

EDCs can throw a wrench into ovulation, making it harder to conceive, or even reduce egg quality, impacting your chances of a healthy pregnancy. The long-term effects of EDC exposure are even more concerning.  Certain EDCs have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, a disease heavily influenced by hormones.  These imposters can trick your body into overproducing oestrogen, potentially fuelling the growth of cancer cells.  The impact isn't limited to just breast cancer – studies suggest a possible link between EDCs and other hormone-sensitive cancers like uterine and ovarian cancer.

The good news? You're not powerless against these silent disruptors.  By understanding EDCs and making informed choices, you can significantly reduce your exposure and create a healthier environment for yourself. Ready to reclaim control of your well-being? Let's dive in!

What are Endocrine Disruptors and Why Should You Care?

Our bodies rely on a complex hormonal network to function properly. Hormones act as chemical messengers, zipping through the bloodstream and delivering instructions to various organs and tissues.  Endocrine disruptors disrupt this finely tuned communication system.  Some EDCs can mimic natural hormones like imposters fooling the body's receptors into overreacting or shutting down essential functions.  Others can block hormone receptors entirely, preventing the body's hormones from delivering their messages.

The Big Three: BPA, Phthalates, and PFAS

Out of the EDC crowd, BPA, phthalates, and PFAS stand out for their widespread presence and concerning health risks. BPA is a common culprit in plastic, while phthalates are found in personal care products. PFAS, on the other hand, linger in the environment and our bodies, posing a persistent threat.

The potential health consequences of EDC exposure are significant and concerning.  Studies have linked EDCs to a variety of health problems, including:

  • Impaired brain function: EDCs may interfere with brain development and function, potentially leading to learning disabilities, memory problems, and even altered behaviour.
  • Impaired thyroid function: hormones from the thyroid gland regulate metabolism and energy production. EDCs can disrupt thyroid function, leading to fatigue, weight gain, and other health issues.
  • Increased risk of obesity: EDCs may disrupt hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism, potentially contributing to weight gain and obesity.
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure: hormonal imbalances caused by EDCs can contribute to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • Increased cancer risk: certain EDCs have been linked to an increased risk of various cancers, including breast, prostate, and testicular cancer.
  • Increased erectile difficulty: EDCs can interfere with hormones necessary for achieving and maintaining an erection.
  • Low sperm count: sperm production and quality can be negatively impacted by EDC exposure.
  • Premature birth: EDC exposure during pregnancy may increase the risk of premature birth and associated health problems for newborns.
  • Disrupted Ovulation: EDCs can mimic or block oestrogen, a crucial hormone for egg development and ovulation. This can lead to irregular ovulation or even anovulation (absence of ovulation).
  • Reduced egg quality: exposure to EDCs might impact egg quality, affecting their ability to be fertilised or develop into a healthy embryo.
  • Endometrial issues: a healthy uterine lining (endometrium) is essential for implantation. EDCs might disrupt hormones that regulate endometrial growth, hindering successful implantation.

EDCs are lurking in surprising places, silently impacting our health. Where and which ones have the biggest impact? Our list below is backed up by the findings from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG): 

10 Sneaky Sources of Endocrine Disruptors in Your Life:

  1. Conventional meat, dairy and produce: animals raised with growth hormones and antibiotics may contain residual traces of these hormones, which can act as EDCs in humans. Additionally, the pesticide and fertilizer residue from conventional farming also play an ED role. This is also the case for lawn and agricultural chemicals in pesticides. Consider organic animal proteins and produce whenever possible and encourage the use of safer pest control methods in your community. Here is a helpful list from the EWG with the “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” of fruits and veg that have the highest pesticide burden for the body so you can make informed shopping choices!
  2. Processed foods: many processed foods are loaded with preservatives, additives, and BPA-lined packaging, all potential sources of EDCs. Choose organic, whole foods whenever possible.
  3. Personal care Items: Parabens and phthalates in lotions, shampoos, and makeup can mimic oestrogen. Look for paraben-free and phthalate-free products made with natural ingredients. Don’t forget the packaging! Avoid plastic whenever possible, recycled does not mean better (for you). 
  4. Fragrances: Air fresheners, laundry detergents, and perfumes often contain phthalates that linger in the air you breathe. Look for fragrance-free or naturally fragranced products. Consider essential oils for a more natural approach.
  5. Cleaning products: Many cleaners harbour a mix of EDCs that can disrupt your thyroid and other hormone systems. Choose natural cleaning products made with vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. You can also dilute conventional cleaners with water to minimise exposure.
  6. Clothing: various chemicals are used to achieve specific qualities during manufacturing and finishing. Formaldehyde is used to create wrinkle-free finishes and prevent shrinkage, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are water-repellent and stain-resistant coatings make clothes more durable; and antibacterial agents that aim to keep clothes odour-free. All of these have an EDC impact with is a significant amount of residual chemicals left behind from the manufacturing process  The good news is that you can minimise your exposure to EDCs in clothing by washing your items before wearing.. Also opting for clothing made from organic cotton, hemp, or linen, merino wool, silk or blends of these fabrics. These materials are less likely to be treated with harsh chemicals, though still good practice to wash first.
  7. Receipts: that paper trail might come with a side of BPA or BPS, chemicals absorbed through your skin. Consider digital receipts or opt for taking a picture  of it and throwing it away to digitise instead of taking it home. A recent study showed that retail and hospitality workers with daily exposure to reciepts had higher amounts of these chemicals in their body after just one shift. 
  8. Plastic containers: beware of BPA and phthalates leaching into your food, especially from heat or scratches. Unfortunately, latest research has shown that some BPA-free plastics are even worse. So, glass or stainless steel containers are safer choices.
  9. Non-Stick cookware: PFAS in your pans are linked to cancer, liver damage, and developmental problems. Invest in cookware made from cast iron, ceramic, or stainless steel.
  10. Nail Polish: TPHP is listed on the ingredient labels of a wide array of nail polishes now on the market. It is a known fire retardant that can interfere with normal hormone functioning. A recent Duke University-EGW study discovered that some polishes contain it but don’t disclose it.

Minimise Your Exposure: Simple Steps for a Healthier You

The good news? You can take control! Here's how to minimise your exposure to EDCs:

  • Ditch Plastic: Switch to glass or stainless steel containers for food storage and avoid microwaving plastic containers altogether.When you must use plastic, don’t microwave it or heat it at very high temperatures, like boiling or in the hot cycle of the dishwasher. 
  • Embrace Natural Beauty: Look for personal care products free of parabens and phthalates. Many natural and organic beauty brands offer effective and safe alternatives.
  • Fresh is Best: Opt for fresh or frozen foods over canned whenever possible. If canned goods are necessary, choose BPA-free options like glass.
  • Read Labels: Be a savvy shopper and choose products labelled "BPA-free" and "phthalate-free." Downloading a shopping app (like ToxFox, OnSkin or Yuka) that can scan product codes and alert you to the presence of EDCs can be a helpful tool.
  • Support Sustainable Brands: Choose clothing companies committed to organic materials and minimal chemical use. Look for certifications like GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) or Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which indicate a commitment to safe production practices, and fabrics that don’t typically involve these chemicals like 100% organic cotton, silk, merino wool or blends.

The extent of this list may feel overwhelming, but if you start with what you put IN and ON your body:

Your food, personal care products (especially skincare, makeup and fragrances used daily) and then home products is a huge, important and meaningful step. It also goes hand in hand with more sustainable and environmentally friendly products so, double win!

By making these adjustments, you can significantly reduce your exposure to EDCs and create a healthier environment for yourself and your loved ones. Remember, small changes can make a big difference!

-Impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on neural development and the onset of neurological disorders: 
-Endocrine disrupting chemicals: effects on pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands 
-Endocrine disruption and obesity: A current review on environmental obesogens 
-Endocrine disruptors and arterial hypertension: A developing story- 
-Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals’ (EDCs) Effects on Tumour Microenvironment and Cancer Progression: Emerging Contribution of RACK1- 
-Estrogenic endocrine disruptor exposure directly impacts erectile function 
-Endocrine disrupting chemicals and impact on male reproductive health-
-Maternal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and preterm birth: A systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression analysis 
-The effects of endocrine‐disrupting chemicals on ovarian‐ and ovulation‐related fertility outcomes 
-Environmental Endocrine Disruptors and Endometriosis 
-Concern about The Safety of Bisphenol A Substitutes- 
-Nail polish as a source of exposure to triphenyl phosphate - 
Hilary is the Co-Founder of the SABI, a Holistic Nutritionist, natural, whole foods Chef, product developer and advocate for women getting to know their bodies, cycles and selves better. Born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Baja California, Mexico, she now lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands with her partner Kees, a curly-tailed rescue dog, Flint and her rainbow baby, Paloma. 
Created as a brand to help women navigate the toughest moments in pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum — and practically every stage of life –– The SABI aims to change the narrative around our hormones from one of taboo, embarrassment, and loneliness to awareness and pride. As more than a wellness brand, The SABI offers a carefully-crafted line of products to carry you through your hormonal journey, including rituals, supportive tools, and ancient herbal remedies that have been tested time and time again by women and now come backed by medicine. The SABI is a blend of science and nature conceived by women who have experienced the joys and deep struggles of bringing a child into the world, the pains of a heavy, difficult period, miscarriage, and difficulty conceiving.
We offer you an invitation to get to know your body and its cycles better –– an invitation to really understand what is going on inside. Learn to use your hormonal cycle to your advantage no matter your stage of life, and know that you can support and balance your hormone levels. Look for the right sources of information. Know that there is help, and know that you’re supported.
The SABI blog and articles are not meant to instruct or advise on medical or health conditions, but to inform. The information and opinions presented here do not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals for your unique situation. 

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