Hormone-disrupting chemicals and how to avoid them
Too much oestrogen can cause breast pain, heavy or painful periods, irritability and other common PMS symptoms, plus it can exacerbate oestrogen-driven conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis and even increase the risk of breast cancer.
In this blog I’ll explain what endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals are, where they’re found in day to day life and how you can start to reduce your exposure to them.
Hormone disrupting chemicals, also known as ‘xeno-estrogens’, are a broad range of chemicals that interact with the endocrine system (your body's hormone system) and cause various negative effects on the actions, communication and metabolism of your hormones.
If any of the symptoms or conditions I've mentioned here resonate with you then I really encourage you to address your exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals that I outline below so you can start to reduce and then minimise your exposure to them.
Here are some of the most common hormone-disrupting chemicals, where they're found in day to day life and how you can start to reduce your exposure to them.
TAP WATER - The most common water contaminants are disinfection by-products, fluorinated substances, bisphenols, phthalates, pesticides, and both natural and synthetic oestrogens.
WHAT YOU CAN DO - Use a Brita filter jug and change the filter more regularly than advised, or fit one in your home, or invest in a Berkey water filter.
PESTICIDES - These are the chemical substances to control pests, insects, weeds found on non-organically grown fruits and vegetables and other plants.
WHAT YOU CAN DO - Buy organic as much as you can and where you can’t, just ensure that you wash your produce thoroughly to remove as much of the pesticide residue as possible. Check out the handy ‘Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce’ by the Environmental Working Group. This is a US specific list however the information can still be relevant for the UK and Ireland. The Dirty Dozen list includes fruit & veg that should be bought organic or at least washed thoroughly, whilst the Clean(er) 15 list shows the fruits and vegetables you can buy non-organic and they are far less likely to have as much pesticide residue.
BISPHENOL A (BPA) - This is a plastic softener found in things like water bottles & food storage containers.
WHAT YOU CAN DO - Avoid heating or freezing food in plastic containers - instead switch to glass, stainless steel, or ceramic. Use a glass or stainless-steel water bottle. BPA is one of the world’s most proven endocrine disruptor.
PARABENS & PHTHALATES
PARABENS - These are a family of related chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products. The most common ones are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, & ethylparaben. They are found in cosmetics such as makeup, face & body moisturisers, hair care, shaving products, and more.
PHTHALATES – These are BIGGIES. These are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products, such as toys, solvents, vinyl flooring and wall covering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, medical devices, and personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other products. Anything that says ‘fragrance’ on the label contains phthalates.
WHAT YOU CAN DO - Slowly start to switch over to 100% natural skincare, hair, make up, household cleaning and detergent products. I’ve gradually switched everything I use on my skin, hair, and household over to their natural equivalents.
NOTE: ‘Organic’ doesn’t necessarily mean 100% natural so beware of that and check labels properly now that you know some chemicals to look out for.
CHEMICAL FREE SKIN & HAIR CARE
Some of my favourite chemical free brands are Green People, Antipodes, Sukin, Jason, Ren, and Neal’s Yard. There are also others out there and shops such as Planet Organic and Whole Foods have a good range.
CHEMICAL FREE HOUSEHOLD CLEANING
Gradually make a switch over from commercial chemical-containing brands to toxin free ones. Some brands to look for include Bio-D, Method and Attitude.
I suggest changing things one at a time, for example the next time your face creams run out buy your new one from one the above brands, then when your cleanser runs out, shower gel, body cream…and so on.
WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT FOR CLEANER PRODUCTS
Natural Collection - www.naturalcollection.com
Big Green Smile - www.biggreensmile.com
Healthy Supplies - www.healthysupplies.co.uk
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