The endocrine system is comprised of several glands that secrete unique hormones into your body. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with endocrine (or hormonal) systems. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders.

So, what would happen if something were to disrupt it? According to several alarming new studies, that’s exactly what’s going on right now. Researchers are warning against too much exposure to endocrine disruptors, which can have adverse effects on your hormones.

Where are They Found?

Endocrine disruptors are found everywhere- canned foods, food packaging, cosmetics and children’s toys, flame retardants, plastic bottles, ink toner, pesticides and carpet-cleaning solutions. The most common endocrine disruptors are bisphenol-A (BPA), perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) and DDT, which is found in most pesticides.

Both BPA and PFCs are widely used in the manufacturing industries because of their highly stain and water resistant qualities; it’s what keeps canned food labels and other food packaging from falling apart even after becoming soaked in water. However, these disruptors can make their way into the food and then into your body; without knowing it, you are probably consuming generous amounts of these chemicals every single day. A 2011 study found that individuals who ate canned soup just once had higher levels of BPA. And urine samples revealed that after five days, the BPA levels increased by more than 1,000 percent.

Here are 8 disrupters you need to AVOID!

Specific foods or ingredients that may contain or act as endocrine disruptors include:

  1. Bisphenol A (BPA): A chemical used in the production  plastics and resins  found in some food containers, water bottles, and can linings. BPA can leach into food and beverages from the containers that are made with BPA, especially when they are heated.
  2. Phthalates: These chemicals are used to make plastics more flexible and are found in food packaging. They can absorb into food from packaging materials.
  3. Pesticides and Herbicides: Pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture  act as endocrine disruptors. For instance, atrazine commonly used on crops, is an endocrine disruptor.
  4. Heavy Metals: Arsenic, lead, and mercury found in some fish and shellfish disrupt hormonal function.
  5. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs):  PCBs can be found in farm-raised salmon. They accumulate in your fat and disrupt hormones- it should be noted that they are banned in most countrise in the world.
  6. Soy Phytoestrogens: Naturally occurring plant estrogens found in soy products  have estrogenic effects.  They can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body.
  7. Artificial Sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners have endocrine-disrupting properties, yet the evidence is not conclusive.
  8. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs): These are used in non-stick cookware and can leach into food during cooking and cause endocrine disruption.
  9. Glycyrrhizin: This natural sweetener affects the endocrine system…in  particular the regulation of cortisol.

The Dangerous Side Effects

More recently, a study took place in early 2012 to determine the effects of PFCs in children. Results showed that children who ate marine food or were exposed to PFCs regularly developed weaker responses to vaccines, making the vaccines less effective and signaling a potential immune system deficiency.

These side effects are not immediate and can even take decades to surface. One example of a hidden
disruptor is DES, which is a synthetic form of estrogen that was thought to prevent expectant mothers from experiencing morning sickness and miscarriage. Years later, we learned that it actually caused breast and vaginal cancer in their daughters, which led to its banning.

The same thing is happening today with endocrine disruptors such as BPA, PFCs, DDT and PFOA. Recent research shows that pregnant women who have high levels of PFOA are three times as likely to have daughters who become overweight. This is a disruptor that’s found in everything from microwave popcorn bags to carpet cleaning solutions, so it’s virtually unavoidable.

Resistant to learn from past mistakes, the United States is currently failing to treat this issue seriously and impose tighter regulation of these endocrine dis- ruptors, like much of Europe and our northern neighbors Canada have already done. There are numerous medical organizations from many different fields joining hands to raise awareness of this hidden danger, with little response. It may be hard to believe that endocrine disruptors exist because it’s so invisible, but the threat is very real and could be affecting all of us without our knowing.

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