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What you need to know about 'endocrine disruptors'

      

 

When we started on our low-tox living journey and while developing The Botanist’s all natural formula, we learned so much about the chemical cocktails that make up so many of our day-to-day products and the dangers they pose to our health.

When you delve into low-tox life you start to hear the term ‘endocrine disrupting’ quite often – but how many of us actually know what this means and how it can impact our health?

This Breast Cancer Awareness month, we want to shed some light on this super important area and encourage you to look at the products you are using at home – home care, cleaning, skin care or otherwise – and see if any of these chemicals are lurking in your home and how to avoid them!

Traditional household cleaning products are a huge culprit for housing toxic chemicals (when they actually list their ingredients), which is why The Botanist was born, but there are plenty of others we need to turn our attention to as well.

First up, what are EDCs?

According to hormone.org, the endocrine system is a network of glands and organs that produce, store, and secrete hormones. When functioning normally, the endocrine system works with other systems to regulate your body's healthy development and function throughout life. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances in the environment, food sources, personal care products, and manufactured products that interfere with the normal function of your body’s endocrine system.

Why is this important?

There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies.

Some EDCs act like "hormone mimics" and trick our body into thinking that they are hormones, while other EDCs block natural hormones from doing their job. Other EDCs can increase or decrease the levels of hormones in our blood by affecting how they are made, broken down, or stored in our body. This can have wide ranging affects including negatively affecting fertility in both men and women, development and other significant health risks.

What can we do?

Avoiding endocrine disruptors is possible by shopping smarter for products without the chemicals. To start with, it’s important to know some of the most dangerous endocrine disruptors are and make product swaps to avoid them.

The Environmental Working Group lists the chemicals in the below table as some of the worst hormone disruptors to look out for. This is my no means an exhaustive list, just a ‘starter kit’ of ingredients to look out for and get you on the way to lowering your toxic load.

Reminder: don’t freak out! You do NOT have to change everything at the same time, just becoming aware is a good first step, and making one change at a time is good enough to reap health benefits.

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 PARABENS
Used as a preservative in makeup, lotion, shampoos and hair care products, shaving creams, toothpaste, tanning products and some deodorants. We can avoid them by looking for the word “paraben” at the end of the words in the ingredients, such as methylparaben and propylparaben.
PHTHALATES
These  chemicals act as binding agents and also make plastics flexible. They’re used in everything from household cleaners to food packaging to fragrance, cosmetics, candles and personal-care products. 
FRAGRANCE
The terms “fragrance” or “parfum” on a product's ingredient list could mean anything. This is typically where phthalates and parabens are hidden from consumers. A 2010 study by Breast Cancer Prevention Partners looked at 17 fragrances and found they contained an average of four hormone-disrupting ingredients each, including synthetic musks and diethyl phthalate.
TRICLOSAN (TCS)
This is a germ-killing active ingredient in many antibacterial products. Triclosan is found in many soaps and sanitizers, and it often shows up in toothpastes, clothes, furniture and toys. In the US, Triclosan was banned from soaps because of concern that it is neither safe nor effective, yet it may be found in hundreds of other products.
BPA
This synthetic hormone can trick the body into thinking it’s the hormone estrogen, and has been linked to everything from breast and others cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease. They are found in plastic bottles, plastic food storage, cans and even store receipts.
FLAME RETARDANTS
These chemicals can imitate thyroid hormones in our bodies and disrupt their activity. Research shows that they escape from electronics, couches, and baby products and collect in our household dust. It's almost impossible to avoid them completely, but one way to reduce exposure is to dust often with a damp cloth or Wood Duster to capture particles of dust instead of blowing them around the house.