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Endocrine disruptors — tipping the hormonal scales

Excerpt from article: Endocrine disruptors — tipping the hormonal scales.

by Dixie Mills, MD

Recent studies of small groups of diverse volunteers (men and women) in Europe, the US and Canada showed that everyone, including the chief of a remote indigenous tribe in Northern Québec, had one characteristic in common: without their knowing, their bodies had absorbed a complex chemical cocktail of dozens of different synthetic substances.

So how did these chemicals get there? Very simply, as the accumulated by-product of a modern life, of breathing industrial emissions, eating treated food, and using endless consumer products — plastic microwave bags, fast-food containers, nail polish, computer casings, to name just a few. None of these volunteers were living near a toxic dump or exhibiting any unusual behavior or disease.

Of all the manmade toxins in our environment, we now realize that the most ubiquitous (the ones used to create plastics, pesticides, cleansers, dyes, flame retardants and white paper, among other products) may be the most worrisome. We identify these as endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDC’s), as they have been shown to mimic the action of hormones when absorbed by humans and wildlife.

These compounds interfere with the essential inner workings of our cells. Measuring how dangerous they are has been difficult not only because they interact in complex ways and at tiny concentrations, but also because literally every species has had some exposure — often in utero. Despite the fact that these chemicals are a relatively recent invention — over the past 60 years or so — endocrine disruptors are omnipresent and there appear to be no uncorrupted, or “normal” subjects for us to monitor as a control group.

Why are endocrine disruptors so important for us to understand? Your endocrine system is one of the most sensitive communication networks — it influences all aspects of your health and well-being, including your reproductive potential, cognitive function, thyroid and metabolism, digestion and hormonal balance. How an individual reacts to hormonally active chemicals varies, but one thing is certain: never before have there been so many diverse, manmade and unregulated synthetics at work in our bodies. Many now think that we are the guinea pigs in the largest uncontrolled science experiment in history.

Coming to terms with this idea can be daunting, so I want you to know upfront that you do have some control over the outcome. By giving your body the tools that it needs to function well you can optimize your capacity to detox. On a larger scale, there are many simple, positive and easy things we all can do to protect our families, our neighborhoods and our future. At Women to Women, we want to empower you to influence the conclusion of this grand experiment; we want you to be informed and aware. So let’s discuss the basics.
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