Easy Ways To Avoid Hormone Disrupting Chemicals Linked With Type 2 Onset

Studies have linked exposure to endocrine disruptors with an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Endocrine disruptors are synthetic chemicals that act like hormones once inside the body, where they can alter the production, release, and functioning of our actual hormones. These chemicals are found in many plastics, pesticides, fragrances, household cleaners, and in flame retardants.

Affects Us All

Last October, a Swedish study estimated a 13 percent reduction of diabetes prevalence in older adults would be generated by cutting endocrine disruptor exposure 25 percent. However, it’s not only adults who are affected by these chemicals.

Children are particularly susceptible to endocrine disruptors, especially during periods of accelerated development. “We have very tight windows of when, say, our brain and liver are made,” explains Kristi Pullen Fedinick, an NRDC staff scientist. “When a hormone-disrupting chemical gets in the way during these windows, it can change the ways these processes happen. The change is often irreversible.”

Avoiding Endocrine Disruptors

Fortunately, and until we make our environment safer, there are easy ways to minimize the endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our lives:

  • Wash Hands.
  • Frequent hand washing - especially before eating - will send a significant amount of toxic residue down the drain. Avoiding antibacterial and fragranced soaps are recommended.

  • Forget Fragrances. One type of endocrine disruptor, phthalates, are often found in fragrances. Choose scent-free laundry, cleaning, and personal products, and use natural odor inhibitors such as citrus peels in the garbage disposal, or baking soda to freshen carpets.
  • Dust and Filter. Flame retardant chemicals can escape from our furniture, baby products, or electronics and cling to household dust. We can trap and dispose of the particles by dusting with a damp or dust-trapping cloth, and using vacuums with HEPA filters.
  • Cut Back On Cans. Many food cans contain BPA (bisphenol-A), an endocrine disrupting chemical that keeps cans from corroding. We can reduce BPA exposure by buying more frozen, fresh, or non-canned dried foods.
  • Rethink Storage. Though we cannot totally avoid plastic, we can limit it’s presence by storing leftovers in glass or stainless steel containers, replacing plastic baggies with reusable food or lunch bags, and using beeswax-coated cloth instead of plastic cling wrap. We should also avoid microwaving food in plastic containers.
  • Choose Cleaner Foods. Organic food contains the least amount of pesticide residue, so it’s recommended people eat organic as much as they can afford to. We might also consider getting an NSF-certified filter for our tap water.
  • Check Labels. Cleaning product manufacturers are not required to list product ingredients on labels. Consider buying from companies that are transparent about their cleaning product ingredients, or look for the green and blue Safer Choice label on items purchased. It’s also easy to make household cleaners with pantry items such as vinegar, baking soda, and borax.

  • Research Kids’ Cosmetics. Be aware that children’s cosmetics - lotions, powders, polishes, bubbles, and glosses - can contain several endocrine disrupting chemicals. Check the cosmetic database at the Environmental Working Group’s website (link below) to see what these products, including soaps and sunscreens, contain.

Even taking one or two of these steps to reduce endocrine disruptor exposure can make a positive difference in our family’s longterm health.

Source: The Scientist; NRDC; EWG/Skin Deep

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