People and chemicals have been co-existing for a long time. Both natural and man-made chemicals are constantly in contact with the population, and the contact isn't always positive.
With over 80,000 man-made chemicals in the world, the level of toxicity people have to endure is massive. Despite the prevalent toxins, as low as 1% of the chemicals have been tested for safety.
Many of these chemicals are especially dangerous because they tend to interfere with our body's hormones. The endocrine system, when disrupted, can have severe health effects leading to developmental, reproductive, neurological, immune problems, and congenital disabilities. Hence, they are called endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs.
Even with such detrimental effects, most people are oblivious to them. It is imperative to increase public awareness and preventive measures to limit exposure.
The Health Predicaments Associated With EDCs
EDCs are part and parcel of the world we live in. Consumption can be constant or seldom, but it is prevalent in our lives. The levels of exposure that are deemed unsafe and harmful are still unproven. What is known for certain is that if the exposure is continuous, the damage cannot be avoided, meaning your endocrine system would be disrupted.
How do EDCs affect the human body?
EDCs can impact the body's homeostatic mechanisms or abnormally start processes in the life cycle by acting on behalf of the endocrine system.
The biological activity of a hormone is mimicked by EDCs with a cellular receptor binding, initiating an unwarranted response. Although it is the cell's natural response, the wrong timing damages it.
Sometimes EDCs bind themselves with a receptor without activating it, preventing the normal hormone from doing the binding. They can also change the levels of natural hormones found in circulation by binding themselves with the transported proteins in the blood. Interference with the metabolic processes in the body and affecting the natural hormone synthesis is also something EDCs are good at.
The effects of EDCs are not usually immediate or direct, but continuous and prolonged consumption can have a snowballing impact. From diabetes to cancer, from adults to children, endocrine disruptors have associations with many health problems in all ages.
Where Are Endocrine Disruptors Found?
EDCs are omnipresent, and more so in household products than anywhere else. From raw materials to manufactured end products, EDCs have been found everywhere.
Some of the most common items found with endocrine-disrupting chemicals are found in our homes, adding to the risk of constant exposure.
- Plastic and canned goods, even those containing some of your favorite foods, have been found to have Bisphenol A, other EDCs of the same family, and Phthalates.
- The mattresses you sleep on, the furniture you constantly use, and some kitchen items have Chemical Flame Retardants.
- While many personal care products have been found to have Parabens, high-risk pesticides, certain fragrances have been associated with Oxybenzone and Phthalates. The sunscreen you may be using can have Oxybenzone as well.
- The products you use to clean your homes can have the opposite effect on your health. EDCs like Methylisothiazolinone, Triclosan, and Triclocarban, the latter two, are more prevalent in antimicrobial cleaning products.
What's more is that the electrical equipment and insulation you use and even unfiltered water you drink also pose a risk of EDC consumption, all in the haven of your homes.
Can You Minimize the Exposure to EDCs?
Recent research by the Endocrine Society emphasizes reducing exposure, at least as much as possible. The confirmation by such a body has made people realize the significant health risks that come with EDC consumption and the imminent action it needs.
Since a large portion of EDC risk is confounded in our homes, it is essential to start making lifestyle changes to accommodate the preventive measures.
- Product and food labels have all the information regarding the ingredients, so reading them is the first step.
- Organic products are highly effective in reducing the risk of exposure. From cleaning products to personal care, going all-natural is the way.
- Glass and stainless steel containers do not emit harmful chemicals like plastic, especially single-use. They would be safer for you and the environment.
If by not microwaving plastic food containers, you can reduce your chemical exposure. Isn't that a change that you should make?
Unfortunately, EDCs have become a part of our everyday lives. People are exposed to products containing endocrine-disrupting chemicals everywhere. To avoid any detrimental effects, awareness is crucial. You must know that continuous exposure can harm you and your coming generations. Therefore, preventing EDC exposure in your life should be one of your top priorities.