When we think about the potential toxins we absorb into our bodies, the first that come to mind are generally those found in foods and drinks we ingest. While it is of course important to reach for clean and organic foods as a way to stay healthy, we must also think about what we’re putting on our body. Our skin - our largest organ - absorbs what it comes in contact with.
Unfortunately, there are few to no national regulations that limit the use of harmful substances in everyday products, which means we have to be more diligent about the choices we make as consumers.
Endocrine disruptors are hormone-altering chemicals present in countless products, from foods, to cosmetics, to household goods. They increase production of certain hormones; decrease production of others; imitate hormones; turn one hormone into another; interfere with hormone signaling; tell cells to die prematurely; compete with essential nutrients; bind to essential hormones; and accumulate in organs that produce hormones. Like, what?
Here are the top offenders, according to the Environmental Working Group, with tips on how to steer clear and/or lessen their negative impacts:
- BPA - Say no to canned foods, receipts, and plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7.
- Dioxin - Eat fewer animal products.
- Atrazine - Choose organic produce and purify your drinking water with a filter certified to remove atrazine.
- Phthalates - Avoid plastic food containers, plastic children’s toys, plastic wraps with the recycling label #3 and personal care products with “fragrance” listed as an ingredient.
- Perchlorate - Use a reverse osmosis filter for drinking water and incorporate iodized salt into your diet.
- Fire Retardants - Support laws that require chemicals be tested before going to market. Also use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, avoid reupholstering foam furniture and use caution when replacing old carpet.
- Lead - Keep your home clean and well maintained, and use a good water filter.
- Arsenic - Use a water filter that lowers arsenic levels.
- Mercury - Stick with wild salmon and farmed trout when eating seafood.
- Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) - Avoid non-stick pans and stain/water-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture and carpets.
- Organophosphate Pesticides - Choose organic produce, especially when it comes to the Dirty Dozen.
- Glycol Ethers - Avoid cleaning products with 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME).
Estrogen Dominance in Beauty Products
Sadly, the list goes on when it comes to beauty products due to regulations that are shockingly inadequate or non-existent. Additional ingredients to avoid include:
- Formaldehyde - Used in nail products, hair dye, fake-eyelash adhesives and some shampoos.
- Parabens (Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl- and Isobutyl-) - Used as preservatives in many products.
- Oxybenzone - An active ingredient in chemical sunscreens.
- DEA/TEA/MEA (Ethanolamines) - Used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for shampoos, body washes, soaps and topical application.
- Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate (SLS, SLES) - Used to make soap foamy.
- Diethylene glycol (or DEG) - Sometimes found in fragrances and as a contaminant in other common ingredients in personal care products.
These ingredients can cause your body to go into a state of estrogen dominance, an imbalance that can be seriously detrimental to your health.
How it’s Affecting our Health
Estrogen dominance is believed to be the cause of several life-long adverse health effects that can be passed down to descendants - especially when endocrine disruptor exposure happens during vulnerable times of development, like pregnancy, lactation and puberty.
One of which being Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormone imbalance that can cause irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, and acne. It is also the most common cause of ovulatory infertility.
Chemical-induced hormonal imbalances also increase risks of hormone-dependent cancers (i.e. breast, ovarian, testicular and prostate), endometriosis, obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, dyslipidemia, poor thyroid function, neurobehavioral disorders, sterilization and puberty disruption.
Toxins in Breastmilk
Because of its high-fat and protein content, breast milk tends to attract heavy metals and other contaminants we are come in contact with.
Harmful compounds found in breast milk have included Bisphenol A (BPA, a plastic component), PBDEs (used in flame retardants), perchlorate (used in rocket fuel), perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs, used in floor cleaners and non-stick pans), phthalates (used in plastics), polyvinyl chloride (PVC, commonly known as vinyl), cadmium, lead and mercury.
Additionally, a 2021 study found that 100% of breast milk samples taken from 50 women tested positive for PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated chemicals used to make products stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proof; one example being fast food wrappers). PFAS have been linked to health problems including weakened immune systems, cancer, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. PFAS are also thought of as "forever chemicals" because it’s believed that once a person is exposed, they can build up in their bodies and lead to higher concentrations over time.
Luckily, the enzymes, antibodies and nutritional benefits from breast milk outweigh the potential risks of chemical contamination. Still, it’s crucial to be cognizant of avoiding products with harmful chemicals, such as unspecified “fragrances” - particularly deodorant. When mama’s breastfeed, for example, they’re basically holding the baby right there in their armpit. Babies’ delicate skin and immune systems are being exposed to any and all ingredients in our deodorants.
A Clean Environment Makes for Clean Health
More ways we can clean up the world around us include using water or air filtration systems (the AirDoctor is tried and true in our homes), being mindful of automobile emissions, eliminating plastic from our household and personal care items, purchasing products certified by the Environmental Working Group, growing our own food or shopping at a local farmer’s market, and replacing single-use paper products with more sustainable and reusable options.
Look for green alternatives to your everyday household items that have reputable certifications; like the Avocado mattress, which is MADE SAFE® certified, the best non-toxic mattress certification in America, screening for 6,500+ known chemical toxins. We also love anything that comes in glass, from personal care products (we package all our products in glass) to cleaning products like those made by Branch Basics. Soy-wax candles are also a great choice, as they burn much cleaner.
The content provided in this article(s) is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Neither Carson Meyer nor C & The Moon LLC are liable for claims arising from the use of or reliance on information contained in this article.