Endocrine disruptors: enemies of our hormonal system
We regularly hear about these invisible enemies. Present in the air, in our food, our beauty creams and even certain periodic protections, endocrine disruptors disrupt our endocrine glands and our hormones. But what are the risks? And how to avoid them as much as possible?
Endocrine disruptors: who are they?
The WHO defines them as: "an exogenous substance or mixture which alters the functions of the endocrine system and thereby induces adverse health effects in an intact organism, its descendants or at the level of (sub)populations". . Bless you ; )! In the jargon, we must understand that it is a chemical agent that produces interference with the hormonal system (of humans or animals).
Remember that our hormones are secreted by our endocrine glands and send messages via the blood network to our organs via their receptors, thus affecting their behavior. Among other things, they regulate our body temperature, our hunger and our satiety, our libido , our sleep, our heart rate, our fat metabolism, our insulin level… and play a fundamental role in puberty. Just that !
Endocrine disruptors attach themselves to the receptors of our organs instead of our hormones, by “imitating” them. But by inducing behaviors... inappropriate!
Where are they hiding?
“Voluntary” endocrine disruptors
- In our pharmacies
We can voluntarily decide to deceive our hormonal system. This is the case when you take a contraceptive pill or a treatment against infertility. But also anabolic steroids (dangerous!) to increase muscle mass through testosterone.
And the others …
- In water
The synthetic hormones of the contraceptive pill in particular, or certain antidepressants and antibiotics that can disrupt the thyroid gland, end up in our wastewater via the urine or faeces of their users and persist for years in the environment and the water of the faucet to a tiny but not insignificant amount.
- In the air
The fine particles released into the air by our factories and our cars are part of the endocrine disruptors, but also certain agents contained in the paints of our interiors, certain glues or varnishes, and even our carpets and our bedding (polybrominated diphenyl ethers y is almost always present …)
- In food
Intensive cultivation and pesticides harm what we eat every day. Thus we find endocrine disruptors in fruits and vegetables, but also certain fish ingesting plastic released into the oceans, certain meats fed with antibiotics, milk (same thing), eggs, cans stuffed with preservatives...
- In cosmetic products
40% of our hygiene and beauty products contain at least one endocrine disruptor. Shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste, creams, make-up removers, lip balms, foundation… and at the top of the list: nail polish.
- In our packaging and pans
Damaged pans or saucepans containing Teflon, plastic baby bottles containing bisphenol A (a synthetic estrogen), aluminum soda cans… residues slip into our plates or baby's milk.
- And…. In some hygienic protections!
Yet banned in Europe, we find lindane and quintozene in the compositions of tampons and sanitary napkins. Sometimes even glyphosate and hydrocarbons!
Without falling into psychosis, you should know that being in the permanent presence of certain endocrine disruptors can increase the risk of cancer. As for babies and young children, their growth may be hampered. In women, the menstrual cycle can be disturbed, she can also develop ovarian cysts. In men, sperm are affected. And the pregnant woman is more vulnerable as is the fetus, of course.
Fight against endocrine disruptors
However, we can limit our consumption of endocrine disruptors in several ways:
- favoring organic food
- by finding out about the quality of the water in our municipality and if necessary by filtering it (be careful, the choice of bottled water is not the solution: many mineral waters contain heavy metals and endocrine disruptors because of the plastic container)
- by choosing organic cosmetics and monitoring the composition of others (banning parabens, oxybenzone, phthalates, resorcinol, etc.)
- by cleaning at home with natural products (white vinegar, black soap, bicarbonate, etc.) and banishing plastic containers
- by adopting safe period protection such as menstrual panties (also called menstrual panties)
Take care of yourself, the planet and your children!