So we all know how fun hormones can be. Their influence in how our moods and bodies feel can be overwhelming – from sex drive and fertility to unbridled rage and pleasure. Did you know that there are things in your environment that can be disrupting your hormones and contributing to changes in your health and increasing numbers of cancer?
Bisphenol A made headlines when it’s connection to cancer was published. Others are xenohormones, dioxins, parabens and phthalates. These fall into the same group of hormone disruptors.
What is a “hormone disruptor”
Simply put, hormone disruptors are chemicals in our environment, products and foods that disrupt our natural hormone balance and functions, or mimic hormones in our bodies.
- Parabens – these behave like estrogen in our bodies, leading to symptoms of estrogen excess.
- Where You Find These: shampoo, body wash, cosmetics, baby wipes, sunscreen and other lotions.
- Phthalates – disrupt both male and female reproductive hormone levels.
- Where You Find These: Plastic, cosmetics like nail polish, shampoo, deodorant, detergent.
- Xenohormones – can behave like hormones, increase growth factors and alter ability for our natural hormones to bind receptor sites in the body.
- Non-organic produce, non-organic red meat (from non-organic animal feed), in some cases – water supply.
- Dioxins – bind to our estrogen receptors.
- Animal products, PVC plastics and formed by incineration of wood, coal and oil.
How can I avoid them?
This part is tricky – because we can’t control everything and everyone in our environments, we can’t completely eliminate exposure to hormone disruptors until the industries that use them stop.
Here are my top 3 tips for avoiding hormone disruptors:
- Consume an organic diet – access to organic meats, fish, produce and packaged foods is increasing. If this approach is outside your budget – I can appreciate that grocery bills add up quickly – consider participating in a farm co-op where you are supporting a local organic farm and building a relationship directly with the farmers. Or use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen (check out this years list HERE). This lists the produce with the highest pesticide content and will help you shop smart for organic produce where it really counts!
- Make the switch to clean beauty products. Don’t be fooled by the marketing of brands you’re used to offering “natural” lines, they often still contain the ingredients you are looking to avoid. Use the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Database to find out how safe your products are. Check out your local health food store – sometimes these shops carry cosmetics and personal hygiene products. In Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo areas there’s a shop I adore called The Truth Beauty Company – their staff is knowledgeable and their products are all clean and safe for you and your family. If you’re in the area I highly recommend visiting the stores. If you’re not – see what your community has to offer! This move towards cleaner products has made them so much more accessible. If you don’t have a store in your area, websites like Well.ca and even Amazon carry some options!
- Stop will all the plastic! Here are some very easy ways to eliminate unnecessary plastics in your home that contribute to hormone disruptor exposure:
- Use a stainless steel water bottle – added perks from the insulated options that will keep your water cool in the heat of summer
- Invest in beeswax wraps and bags instead of plastic wrap and Ziploc bags
- Switch to glass or stainless steel containers for leftovers and lunches
- Pick up stainless steel or paper straws
These simple tips can help reduce your exposure to hormone disruptors and decrease the toxic burden and risks for cancer that are associated with them. There are so many things we cannot control, why not take charge of the things you can control?