Beyond these obvious facts, proper functioning of our ten or so endocrine glands, that secret about fifty hormones, is essential to a person’s health and vitality. What are the consequences when this system is disrupted? Let’s hear from an expert, Dr. Theo Colburn, founder of TEDX, the Endocrine Disruption Exchange. “Disorders of the endocrine system 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.”
Got your attention?
Fortunately, this issue – disruption of the hormone system – has caught the attention of the World Health Organization. In 2012 it published a sobering, detailed report, State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). I will quote from it.
- Close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion.
- Hormones play many critical roles in neurodevelopment, including the circuits that control sex-specific behavior and physiology. Data indicate that exposure of the fetus to hormone disruptors affects cognition in animal studies, and limited data indicate that sexual behaviors are also affected.
- There are now animal data showing that embryonic exposure to EDCs or potential EDCs (e.g. tributyltin, BPA, some pesticides, lead, perfluorooctanoic acid, phthalates) leads to altered cholesterol metabolism, possible weight gain and type-2 diabetes in adulthood.
- Epidemiological evidence suggests that several groups of common contaminants, including PCBs, brominated flame retardants, phthalates, BPA and perfluorinated chemicals, are associated with reduced serum thyroid hormone levels in humans.
- It is increasingly clear that EDCs likely play a role in the rise in immune-related disorders in both humans and wildlife. Many immune disorders have well-established ties to the endocrine system, such that disruption of select endocrine pathways may disturb the immune response, potentially causing allergies, endometriosis, bone disorders, autoimmune thyroid disease and immune cancers.
If you want a simple up-to-date summary of endocrine disruptors, see the website of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) for their October 28, 2013 article, DIRTY DOZEN. It lists12 hormone-disrupting chemicals and has a short description of how to avoid them. I highly recommend this brief preventive article – it could make a difference in your health and that of your family.