In an age where reproductive cancers or reproductive issues like endometriosis and infertility in women (and men) are on the rise, it is so important to understand some of the processes behind the cause of these major health issues. Cervical, breast, and ovarian cancer; along with prostate and testicular cancers in men, are no joke. Many of us however, are playing with fire when it comes to what we use on a daily basis; exposing us to the mechanisms that can be responsible for the increase of some of these cancers, along with negative impacts on the fertility of ourselves and our future generations.
We all know that reducing alcohol intake, participating in daily exercise, and eating nutritious food can help to decrease our risk of developing many diseases including cancer; but xenoestrogens are a major risk factor many of us are unaware of.
Xenoestrogens are synthetic compounds that can be described as endocrine disrupters. What this means is that they disrupt our regular hormonal functions. Xenoestrogens are a category of chemicals that mimic estrogen in our body and can block or bind to receptors before our natural estrogen. This means we have circulating estrogen we don’t need, causing a chemical that is very much like estrogen, but is ever so slightly not estrogen, acting on important receptors instead. This is particularly damaging in hormone sensitive organs like the breasts and uterus, and in the immune system, with evidence pointing to this being involved with cancers of these tissues.
So where do we find xenoestrogens?
Most of us know to avoid BPA in plastics and even if we don’t know why – we follow the advertising and often choose products that claim to be BPA free regardless of whether we know the reasons why we should.
Bisphenol A is a compound that is used in plastics that leaches into what ever is stored in that plastic – especially when heated. This goes for your microwave meals (healthy or not) and your pump bottle you leave sitting in your hot car.
Cosmetics and health care products are also full of xenoestrogens and you can safely read the ingredient list and look for anything ending in “paraben” and know that it is going to disrupt your hormones. Other products containing xenoestrogens are phthalates and DEHP in plastics, 4-MBC in sunscreen, PCB’s in electrical/automotive liquids, insecticides and household cleaners.
How to avoid xenoestrogens without going crazy, or maybe go a bit crazy!
It’s not about throwing every inch of your home from the cupboard and into the bin but it is about making some mindful choices where you can (unless you want to go 100% then by all means have fun). I started by simply removing all my cleaning products and replacing them with eco-friendly alternatives. Replace your water bottle with a glass one and if you are using single-use water bottles (I actually hate the ‘bleach-water’ Coca Cola sells in their plastic poison but I’m trying to be less dramatic than usual) then never leave them in your car or the sun – never buying them in the first place is an even better option!
Next take a look at skincare and make up and start replacing it with friendlier products – interestingly enough, I used to say I needed the harsh stuff to keep my skin looking half-okay but as it turns out, after a few months of natural skin care, my skin looked better than it had since I was a child. It’s about letting it get back to its natural ‘detoxed’ state and stopping with all the chemical crap – alongside great nutrition, movement and exercise, and less stress.
Dr. Libby has made a powerful statement that many of you would recognise and that is; “if you don’t think your skin is a direct route to your bloodstream, then think about how nicotine patches work.” I love this summary of how what we use on our skin is absorbed and therefore influences our circulating hormone levels.
Taking things further, I use glass and ceramic at home as much as possible, if it is plastic it is never heated, and it’s always BPA free.
Slight side note – I still prefer to avoid all plastics as much for my health and the health of the ocean where it all seems to end up! The image below is LA River but it is where we are going in NZ if we continue how we are (shameless plug for banning single use plastic bags – yes please) and if you’re as frustrated as I am at the state of this world and the lack of respect by humans for it then this is an awesome interview with the man behind Sustainable Coastlines, you should all check out! http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11476612
Some references for those who are interested