• Hannah Hippe

What Are Endocrine Disruptors?

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals in everyday products that negatively impact the endocrine system. You might be thinking…your what system? Yep, your endocrine system. This system affects all things hormones - which is why it’s otherwise known as the hormones system.

What’s the Endocrine System?

Let’s simplify it.

Your endocrine system is made up of chemical messengers (aka hormones). These hormones are secreted by glands throughout your body. A few common glands you might have heard of include your thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands. These glands (and more) affect things like your:

  • Metabolism

  • Heart rate

  • Growth & development

  • Body temperature

  • Sexual function & reproduction

  • Immune system

  • And much more

Now that you know the importance of the endocrine system and what it regulates, let’s dive into the nitty gritty-endocrine disruptors.

Endocrine Disruptors - The Icky Stuff

What you put on your body is absorbed into your bloodstream. And unfortunately, many of the conventional products on the market contain endocrine disruptors. This means those harmful chemicals are getting into your body.

While there are some natural chemicals that can mimic these - there is a multitude of them in daily-use products that are man-made. There is NO safe level of endocrine disruptors. Scientists are still testing the effects of endocrine disruptors on animals and humans, however, even low doses may be unsafe.

So, unaware of this, we are constantly putting endocrine disruptors on our bodies and even IN our bodies, too. As a result, these chemicals can contribute to infertility, horrible cramps, bad PMS, estrogen dominance, and more. When your hormones are out of balance, everything is out of balance. And it doesn’t take much to cause a shift in your hormones.

What Chemicals are Endocrine Disruptors, and What Products are They in?

There are many more chemicals classified as endocrine disruptors, however, for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on the three below.

  • BPA: BPA is a chemical used in plastic that imitates the hormone estrogen. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) states that "BPA has been linked to everything from breast and other cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty, and heart disease, and according to government tests, 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies!" BPA is in thermal receipt paper, some plastic containers, and BPA is in the lining of many canned goods.

  • Parabens: A group of chemicals used as artificial preservatives in cosmetic products. The EWG notes, "Scientific studies suggest that parabens can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer." The biggest culprits with parabens are makeup, sunscreen, hair products, and face and body lotion.

  • Phthalates: According to the EWG, "Studies have linked phthalates to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities." Phthalates are in plastic containers, some children's toys, personal care products (most likely hidden in the ingredient "fragrance"), and plastic wrap labeled recycling #3.

So…What Can You Do About it?

Whelp. After all of that bleak information...There IS good news. You have control over the products and items you buy and use.

As a consumer, you have power; the power to create change with your dollar. Part of creating that change means actively choosing (once you're aware) better choice products.

This comes to the heart of what I’m passionate about… alternatives that are not full of the icky stuff. Whether that be making my own or finding swaps that are made with simple ingredients.

As far as practical ways to reduce your exposure to endocrine disruptors, you can begin by doing the following things:

  • Avoid touching receipts by saying "no thank you" when you're offered a copy

  • Look for BPA free when purchasing children's toys

  • Reduce the use of canned goods and buy fresh when you are able

  • Store your food in glass containers instead of plastic

  • Avoid the ingredient listed as "fragrance" in future personal care product purchases

In time, start to swap out the personal care products you use most often when they run out, and go from there. I'm all about creating balance and not feeling like you have to ditch every single product you use at once. Switching my products or making my own alternatives is a process; a journey. And that's exactly why I created Pure & Simple; to document this journey and take you along with me!

To continue the journey and learn more DIY recipes and low tox information, follow me on Instagram.

Source: Environmental Working Group