You think you’re doing “everything right” or “eating healthy,” but you might be hurting your efforts to get and stay well by not paying attention to the harmful effects of the everyday items you use at home.
Chemicals in your household products may be negatively affecting your hormones, says a recent study by the WHO (World Health Organization). The study, “State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals,” says pesticides, plasticizers and product additives contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). They act like synthetic hormones, throwing off the body’s natural hormonal system. Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the glands in our endocrine system and released in our blood, affecting everything from mood to metabolism.
The exposure happens on a daily basis from being in contact with items like soap, shampoo, cleaners, drinking water, food and plastic containers. One of the chemicals investigated in the study is BPA, or Bisphenol A, which mimics estrogen if it’s introduced into the body. It can get there by leaching out of hard plastic bottles, especially if they are heated (in microwave ovens or dishwashers) or exposed to acidic solutions (tomato sauce). BPA has been linked to breast cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
BPA was banned in baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012, but can still be found in plastic reusable food containers, measuring cups, canned soup, soda cans and cash register and ATM receipts. If you think you’ll be safe if a product claims “No BPA” on the label, you’d be wrong. A new exposé by Mother Jones magazine revealed that chemicals used to replace BPA may be just as dangerous to your health, if not more. “Plastic products being advertised as BPA-free — and sold by companies such as Evenflo, Nalgene and Tupperware — are still releasing synthetic estrogen,” the article stated.
Another chemical to be aware of is the antibacterial chemical Triclosan, found in many personal-care products, including liquid soap, deodorant, acne cream and toothpaste. A really effective way to absorb chemicals is through the mouth. For example, when a drug like nitroglycerin is administered for a heart condition it is given under the tongue for fast absorption. So are natural homeopathic remedies. So what happens when you brush with toothpaste containing Triclosan? You get a dose of the chemical.
“Three out of four Americans have Triclosan in their blood,” said Sarah Janssen, M.D., Ph.D, senior scientist in the health and environment program at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) in San Francisco. “And when you brush your teeth with a toothpaste containing the chemical, your levels go way up.”
According to scientists, Triclosan is proven to be an endocrine disruptor in laboratory animals. It decreases thyroxine levels in the thyroid (Crofton, 2007); interferes with testosterone and decreases sperm counts (Kumar, 2009); and interferes with estrogen, bringing on early puberty (Stoker, 2010). The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says that girls in the US are entering puberty at earlier ages than they have in the past. Plus, $3 to $5 billion is spent per year in the U.S. on infertility treatments. Could there be a connection to Triclosan exposure? While tests haven’t been done on humans, we may be even more sensitive than lab animals, so it’s probably best to avoid it.
What can you do?
• Get tested at a lab that measures hormones, specifically estrogen, testosterone and thyroid levels. A great diagnostic testing service that doesn’t require a doctor’s visit is WellnessFX.com.
• Replace plastic drinking bottles and storage containers with glass or metal.
• Read labels. Look for the word “antibacterial” as a clue that the product contains Triclosan, and don’t buy it.
• Use plain soap and water. Antibacterial soaps and washes are not any better at killing germs and could contribute to the growth of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.