New Studies Link Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals with Reproductive Health
The human endocrine system comprises a network of glands that produce and secrete hormones, which are chemical substances responsible for controlling a range of bodily functions. The major glands that make up the endocrine system include the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus, and adrenal glands. These glands regulate various body functions such as metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among others. The system operates via feedback mechanisms that maintain a stable internal environment, or homeostasis, within the body.
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) are a class of environmental toxins that can interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system. These chemicals can mimic, block, or alter the hormones in the body, leading to a disruption in the body’s normal hormone balance. New research have connected EDC exposure to disrupt metabolic and reproductive health in men and women.
We are exposed to EDCs every day
Commonly encountered Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals include Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and certain pesticides. BPA is frequently found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, often used in food and beverage packaging and toys.
Phthalates are commonly used in PVC plastics, cosmetics, and medical devices. PCBs were once widely used in coolants, flame retardants, and insulators, and despite being banned in the 1970s, residues persist in the environment.
Certain pesticides, such as DDT, used to control pests in agriculture, can also act as endocrine disruptors. These chemicals often enter our bodies through the consumption of contaminated food and water, inhalation of polluted air, or physical contact with contaminated products.
EDCs also include parabens, commonly used as food preservatives; and triclosan, an antimicrobial compound used in personal care products.
EDCs have effects on women’s reproductive and metabolic systems
In this year’s studies, researchers identified impacts of EDCs on women’s reproductive health, including:
- Early menopause
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Delayed menarche
- Uterine fibroids
Several of these conditions are not only disruptive to reproduction, but they also increase the risk of breast and uterine cancers.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals were also found to cause metabolic syndrome, a disease that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke – three of the most life-limiting health conditions.
Men’s reproductive health also takes a turn when exposed to EDCs
In a separate research review of endocrine disruptors on men, the team found that the chemicals caused several reproductive issues, including:
- Irregular testosterone levels
- Reduced sperm production, quality, and motility
- Testicular abnormalities and cancer
These conditions not only impact fertility but can be life-threatening Low testosterone is associated with loss of bone density and muscle mass; high testosterone is associated with prostate cancer.
How to reduce exposure to endocrine disruptive chemicals
- Choose household and personal care products formulated without EDCs
- Look for plastic bottles that are BPA free, and better yet, drink from reusable bottles.
- Limit plastic usage in your home, and replace it with wood, glass, or metal
- Eat organic foods that have not been exposed to pesticides
Fountain Life can help
As part of our APEX membership, Fountain Life delivers diagnostics that test for the effects of these dangerous chemicals in your body. Fountain Life offers a comprehensive suite of tests that help to identify damage caused by environmental chemicals such as EDC’s. With our APEX Membership, Fountain Life can help you identify diseases before you have symptoms, and provide a suite of diagnostics and therapeutics to keep you performing and living at your best.