Well, it’s not quite a control center, like the brain is the nerve control center, rather it is a distributed control system. The Endocrine System, comprised of the pineal gland, pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, thyroid and parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, kidneys, ovaries, and testes is the chemical control system. The fifty or so hormones produced by these glands regulate all metabolic processes and orchestrate healthy reproduction and development in humans and animals. The sabotage agents are pesticides and myriad toxic chemicals.
Why should we be concerned? Because there is mounting evidence that widespread endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are wreaking havoc on wildlife and damaging the health of humans. Dr. Theo Colborn (founder of TEDX, the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, and author of Our Stolen Future) described the global situation this way. “Disorders of the endocrine system, now at epidemic proportions, include learning disabilities and behavioral mood problems, infertility, abnormal gonad development, cancers of the reproductive organs, unusual pubertal onset, diabetes, obesity, allergic and asthma reactions, and more.” In 2012 the World Health Organization issued a report on the state of the science of EDCs, declaring them a global health threat. The report highlights health problems associated with EDCs, including: non-descended testes in young males, breast cancer in women, prostrate cancer in men, thyroid cancer, and ADHD in children. Almost 900 chemicals are linked to hormone disruption; the TEDX group identified 55 pesticides as EDCs. Scary stuff!
To protect yourself you will certainly want to learn who are the culprit chemicals. Readers of this blog site will have encountered them before; they are the familiar phthalates, bisphenol-A, flame retardants, fluorocarbons, and triclosan. Previous posts tell where you will encounter these EDCs, and therefore, you will know how to avoid them. Triclosan is the antibacterial chemical found in many hand soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, and personal care products. Triclosan and its metabolites (breakdown products) are found in umbilical cord blood and human milk! The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention found triclosan in the urine of 75% of the U.S. population, with concentrations that have increased by 50% since 2004. Much of household triclosan goes down the drain with wash water and 90 to 95 percent is removed in modern wastewater (i.e., sewage) treatment plants. Nevertheless, research at the University of Minnesota showed that triclosan and its breakdown products are present in freshwater lakes across the state, and that triclosan disrupts aquatic ecosystems by inhibiting photosynthesis in algae and killing beneficial bacteria.
For the sake of the planet and your health, avoid using products containing triclosan, and minimize your household exposure to phthalates, flame retardants, bisphenol-A, and fluorocarbons.
I last reported on hormone disrupting chemicals on March 16, 2011.