Endocrine disruptors: Understanding their impacts on hormonal health and fertility
Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are chemicals that can interfere with the functioning of our hormonal system. Present in our food, our environment and even our cosmetic products, these toxic substances can have harmful effects on our health.
WHAT ARE ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS?
Endocrine disruptors are chemical substances, whether of natural or artificial origin, which enter the body and disrupt the functioning of the endocrine system, thus causing harmful effects on the body and its offspring.
The endocrine system, also known as the hormonal system, is made up of various glands that produce hormones, thus acting as messengers and regulating many essential functions of the body. Endocrine disruptors, on the other hand, disrupt the normal functioning of the hormonal system by binding to hormone receptors. This disruption unbalances the endocrine system and affects all organs that secrete hormones. The endocrine system includes around ten specialized glands, such as the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal glands and thymus, as well as several other organs capable of producing hormones, such as the pancreas, heart, kidneys , ovaries, testes and intestines.
When the endocrine system is disrupted, this can lead to the appearance of hormone-dependent pathologies. In the case of xenoestrogens, these molecules act in a similar way to our own estrogens, and are responsible for early puberty, fertility disorders and other problems of the reproductive system.
LIST OF ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS
The list of substances suspected of having harmful effects as endocrine disruptors is long and continues to grow as new studies are carried out, in particular by ANSES. Among endocrine disruptors, we find:
- Bisphenols, such as bisphenol A (BPA), prohibited in all food containers intended for infants;
- Brominated, perfluorinated and alkylphenol compounds;
- Chlordecone, an insecticide;
- Aluminum salts;
- Artificial musk, etc.
THE IMPACT OF ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS ON THE ORGANISM
These substances can have effects on the production, secretion, transport, metabolism, binding, action or elimination of natural hormones, according to Multigner (2007). Thus, endocrine disruptors have different modes of action, such as:
- Imitation of the action of natural hormones;
- Binding to natural hormone receptors;
- Obstruction of the regulatory and production mechanisms of natural hormones or their receptors.
Endocrine disruptors alter hormone concentrations in the body, raising concerns about their potential effects on human health. Some effects, including the development of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, uterine cancer, and testicular cancer, have been documented. In addition, endocrine disruptors can interact and increase the incidence of certain hormone-dependent pathologies.
ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS AND HYGIENIC PROTECTIONS
Disposable sanitary protection contains toxic substances.
According to an ANSES report in 2018, tampons, panty liners and sanitary napkins may contain chemical components considered to be of concern for health, such as:
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs);
- Perfume additives;
- Sodium polyacrylate crystals;
- Dioxin and furans.
It has been proven that disposable sanitary protection also contains endocrine disruptors such as quintozene and lindane, two pesticides banned in Europe, as well as glyphosate, a pesticide at the origin of the Monsanto scandal, which is still used by manufacturers of feminine hygiene products.
ALTERNATIVES WITHOUT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS OR CHEMICALS
Faced with the dangers of traditional periodic protection, there are healthier alternatives that preserve the health of menstruators in the long term while offering comfort and safety. Menstrual panties are an excellent solution for rediscovering your period. However, it is important to ensure that brands use certified and non-toxic materials. SOJE brand panties are made in Montreal, exclusively from Oeko-tex 100 certified textiles, which are free of harmful substances and breathable, thus limiting the proliferation of bacteria responsible for odors and infections.
HOW TO AVOID EXPOSURE TO ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS?
To limit exposure to endocrine disruptors, it is recommended to take the following measures:
- Promote a healthy and balanced diet by excluding prepared meals and favoring the consumption of organic fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid heating dishes in plastic containers in the microwave and use a bottle warmer.
- Avoid the use of indoor deodorizers and favor the use of natural cleaning products such as white vinegar, Marseille soap or black soap.
- Be vigilant about the composition of the cosmetics used by ensuring that they are free of parabens, aluminum salts, phthalates and artificial fragrances, and favor organic cosmetic products.
By taking these measures, it is possible to reduce your exposure to endocrine disruptors and preserve your hormonal health.