How to avoid them.
Xenoestrogens are found in a variety of everyday items. We might not think twice about the makeup we wear each day, the moisturiser we put on our skin, or the plastic container we use to pack our lunch. We know organic food is supposed to be better for us, but sometimes we just don’t want to pay the extra money. Unfortunately, all of the above may be altering the way our body naturally functions because they all contain endocrine disruptors called xenoestrogens.
Our endocrine system releases hormones, which are chemical messengers that tell our body what it’s supposed to do. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that have the ability to mimic our natural hormones; blocking or binding to our hormone receptors. This is especially problematic to hormone sensitive organs such as uterus and breast tissue, our immune and neurological systems, and normal human development.
Xenoestrogens are endocrine disruptors that specifically have estrogen-like effects. Our body naturally regulates the amount of estrogen we need, but when we are exposed to xenoestrogens, they increase the amount of overall estrogen in our body, creating an excess.
Our body isn’t able to break down xenoestrogens, so they are stored in our fat cells. The build up of xenoestrogens have been indicated in many conditions, including breast, prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes.
We are constantly exposed to xenoestrogens through everyday items such as fruits and vegetables sprayed with pesticides, plastic water bottles and Tupperware, nail polish, makeup, birth control pills and on and on.
Here are some of the chemicals that are xenoestrogens:
- 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) (sunscreen lotions)
- Parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben commonly used as a preservative)
- Benzophenone (sunscreen lotions)
Industrial products and Plastics:
- Bisphenol A or BPA (monomer for polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin; antioxidant in plasticizers)
- Phthalates (plasticizers)
- DEHP (plasticizer for PVC)
- Polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs) (flame retardants used in plastics, foams, building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles).
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- Erythrosine / FD&C Red No. 3
- Phenosulfothiazine (a red dye)
- Butylated hydroxyanisole / BHA (food preservative)
- Pentachlorophenol (general biocide and wood preservative)
- Polychlorinated biphenyls / PCBs (in electrical oils, lubricants, adhesives, paints)
- Atrazine (weed killer)
- DDT (insecticide, banned)
- Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (one of the breakdown products of DDT)
- Dieldrin (insecticide)
- Endosulfan (insecticide)
- Heptachlor (insecticide)
- Lindane / hexachlorocyclohexane (insecticide, used to treat lice and scabies)
- Methoxychlor (insecticide)
- Nonylphenol and derivatives (industrial surfactants; emulsifiers for emulsion polymerization; laboratory detergents; pesticides)
- Propyl gallate
- Chlorine and chlorine by-products
- Ethinylestradiol (combined oral contraceptive pill)
- Metalloestrogens (a class of inorganic xenoestrogens)
- Alkylphenol (surfactant used in cleaning detergents
So now we know what to avoid… here’s what we can do to minimise our exposure.
Guidelines to minimise your personal exposure to xenoestrogens:
- Avoid all pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides
- Choose organic, locally-grown and in-season foods
- Peel non-organic fruits and vegetables
- Buy organic, hormone-free meats and dairy products to avoid hormones and pesticides.
- Reduce the use of plastics whenever possible
- Do not microwave food in plastic containers
- Avoid the use of plastic wrap to cover food for storing or microwaving
- Use glass or ceramics whenever possible to store food
- Do not leave plastic containers, especially your drinking water, in the sun
- If a plastic water container has heated up significantly, throw it away
- Don’t refill plastic water bottles
- Avoid freezing water in plastic bottles to drink later.
- Use chemical free, biodegradable laundry and household cleaning products
- Choose chlorine-free products and unbleached paper products (i.e. tampons, menstrual pads, toilet paper, paper towel, coffee filters)
- Use a chlorine filter on shower heads and filter drinking water.
Health and Beauty Products
- Avoid creams and cosmetics that have toxic chemicals and estrogenic ingredients such as parabens and stearalkonium chloride
- Minimise your exposure to nail polish and nail polish removers
- Use naturally based fragrances, such as essential oils
- Use chemical free soaps and toothpastes
- Read the labels on condoms and diaphragm gels.
In the Office
- Be aware of noxious gas such as from copiers and printers, carpets, and at the petrol pump.