Sociopathic Traits of Endocrine Disrupters

Sociopathic Traits of Endocrine Disrupters

Impulsive, manipulative and unreliable are all words that describe sociopathic behavior but these words can also be used to describe Endocrine Disrupters which are chemicals that mimic natural hormone processes causing overproduction or underproduction of natural hormones.  If that isn’t crazy enough they may also block the effects of a hormone from certain receptors (hormone signaling) causing cells to die. They can also bind to essential hormones causing chemical build up in endocrine glands which are organs that produce hormones. Endocrine disrupters have the potential to negatively affect the reproductive and nervous systems, metabolism, and can cause cancer. YIKES!

Certain environmental chemicals are known to be Endocrine Disrupters although the causal relationship between these chemicals and the endocrine system is not fully understood.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created an Endocrine Disrupter Screening Program (EDSP) to screen pesticides, chemicals, and environmental contaminants for their potential affect on estrogen, androgen and thyroid hormone systems. However, research is still underway to determine how toxic these chemicals truly are and to better understand how the accumulation of these chemicals effect the health of people and the environment.

Although threshold levels (minimum exposure needed before a toxic effect will occur) for chemicals have been established I think people need to be aware of the cumulative effects of using several products which may lead to unsafe exposure levels. Unfortunately, it is impossible to be free of exposure to all these chemicals and that is why it is important for every household to make a list of all the products used in a given day to visualize your families’ toxic load and make necessary changes to reduce overall toxicity.

So here are the sociopathic culprits that have been named the ‘Dirty Dozen’ by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Read

The Dirty Dozen

What is it? Arsenic is a poisonous chemical often used in herbicides and pesticides and is classified as a Class 1 carcinogen, meaning it is highly toxic to humans.

Health Outcomes? Arsenic can cause skin, bladder, heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.  It interferes with normal hormone functioning in the glucocorticoid system that regulates how our bodies process sugars and carbohydrates and has been linked to weight gain/loss, protein wasting, immunosuppression, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, and growth retardation. An interesting study measured the amount of inorganic arsenic in the urine of 3,575 men and women ages 45 to 75 living in Arizona, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  After nearly 20 years, participants with the highest arsenic levels were 65% more likely to have had a heart attack or stroke thank those with the lowest level of arsenic.  The study appeared in the Sept. 24 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine

How to reduce your Arsenic toxic load?

What is it? Is a highly toxic herbicide used on the majority of corn crops in the US which has found its way into the water supply.

Health Outcomes? Atrazine has been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate inflammation in animals, and some research has linked it to prostate cancer in humans.

How to reduce your Atrazine toxic load?

  • Buy organic produce
  • Use a water filter that is certified by NSF International to meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard 53 for VOC (volatile organic compounds) reduction to remove atrazine.

What is it? Mimics the hormone estrogen and can be found in cans lined with BPA. Plastics labeled PC for polycarbonate may also contain BPA.

Health Outcomes? BPA has been linked to breast and others cancers, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease. It is estimated that over 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies!

How to reduce your BPA toxic load?

  • Eat fresh organic foods and ditch the cans.  Read my past blog called  ‘Kick the Can’ 
  • Do not use paper or plastics that contain BPA or are marked with a “PC” for polycarbonate (recycling label #7)

What is it? Dioxins are released during manufacturing, burning, or landfilling but can also result from natural processes, such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires. You can also be exposed to small amounts of dioxins through food (especially animal products and fish), breathing air, drinking water, and via exposure to pesticides and herbicides.

Health Outcomes? Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones, and can cause cancer.

How to reduce your Dioxin toxic load?

  • Eat Organic
  • Eat fewer animal products including meat, fish, milk, eggs and butter

What is it?  Chemical fire retardants containing polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are found in upholstered furniture, clothing, and carpets.

Health Outcomes? These chemicals cause thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, advanced puberty, reduced fertility, and cancer.

How to reduce your fire retardant toxic load?

  • Reduce exposure to toxic dust by using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  • Avoid reupholstering furniture
  • Use a mask when replacing old carpet
  • Non-Toxic fire retardants are currently being researched. These fire retardants are made up of organic phosphorus-containing compounds, called phosphoramidates that may be a non-hazardous option in the future when purchasing materials.

 

What is it? Glycol ethers are found in  paints, hydraulic brake fluids, shock absorber fluids, stains, inks, some insecticides and dry cleaning solvents. They are also used in many industrial processes.

Health Outcomes? Acute exposure may cause Narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage.  Chronic (long-term) exposure to the glycol ethers may result in neurological and blood effects, including fatigue, nausea, tremor, and anemia, asthma, allergies, blood abnormalities, and lower sperm counts.

How to reduce your Glycol Ether Toxic load?

  • Don’t use products with ingredients such as 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME).

What is it? Is a natural occurring toxic heavy metal and has been used in paint, ceramics, pipes, solders, gasoline, batteries, and cosmetics. The most common sources of lead exposure in the United States is from paint, drinking water, contaminated soil, and lead-glazed pottery.

Health Outcomes?  Lead exposure has been linked to serious health problems, including permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, premature birth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and nervous system problems, and may affect hormone functioning in humans (in animals, lead has proven to lower sex hormone levels).

How to reduce your Lead toxic load?

What is it? Mercury is a naturally occurring but toxic metal that gets into the air and the oceans  though process of burning coal. Contaminated seafood is mostly how humans are exposed to it.

Health Outcomes? Muscle weakness, skin rashes, mental disturbances such as mood swings and memory loss, impairment of speech, hearing and peripheral vision, impairment of coordinated movements such as walking or writing, numbness in hands and feet, and may cause diabetes because of its pregnant women are the most at risk from mercury exposure since it effects the developing brain of the fetus. It also influences hormone signaling in women affecting normal menstrual cycles.

How to reduce your mercury toxic load?

  • Eat sustainable seafood like wild salmon and farmed trout.

What is it? Organophosphate pesticides are a group of approximately 40 closely related pesticides that affect functioning of the nervous system. Examples include chlorpyrifos, phosmet, and methyl parathion. Neurotoxic organophosphate compounds t. Despite many studies linking organophosphate exposure to effects on brain development, behavior and fertility, they are still among the more common pesticides in use today.

Health Outcomes? Neurotoxic organophosphates can affect the human body by compromising brain development and  fertility (interferes with the way testosterone communicates with cells, lowers testosterone, and alters thyroid hormone levels)

How to reduce your organophosphate toxic load?

  • Buy organic produce and use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which can help you find the fruits and vegetables that have the fewest pesticide residues. Check it out at: www.ewg.org/foodnews/

 

What is it? Perchlorate comes from rocket fuel and fireworks manufacturing and contaminates our water supply.

Health outcomes? When perchlorate gets into your body it blocks the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland which affects the normal production of thyroid hormones.  These hormones regulate metabolism in adults and are essential for proper brain and organ development in infants and young children.

How to reduce your Perchlorate toxic load?

  • Install a reverse osmosis filter

What is it?  Perfluorinated chemicals are used to make non-stick cookware and can be found in 99 percent of Americans. The EPA created a voluntary pact in 2006 to ensure that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA- one of the most harmful and persistent compounds) would not be released into the environment from finished products or manufacturing plants but is still used to produce these products.

Health Outcomes? PFC’s accumulates in the liver and blood and has been linked to bladder cancer, liver cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity including infant death, and may cause infertility in women.

How to reduce your PFC toxic load?

  • Do not use non-stick pans or stain and water-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture and carpets (replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware).

What is it? Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl.  Phthalates are used in hundreds of consumer products including cosmetics and personal care products, shower curtains, wallpaper, vinyl miniblinds, food packaging, and plastic wrap.

Health Outcomes? Pthalates can trigger reproductive cell death caused by interference with normal hormone signaling. Studies have linked phthalates to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities.

How to reduce your Phthalate toxic load?

  • Avoid plastic food containers
  • Research what compounds are used in toys
  • Avoid using plastic wrap made from PVC (which has a recycling label #3)
  • Read the labels and avoid products that list “fragrance,” since this may mean there are hidden phthalates.
  • Find phthalate-free personal care products

 

SLN’s Take Home Message

Start to look for products that are made by companies that are non-toxic and/or 100% organic (products that have the USDA 100% Organic seal), green, earth-friendly, and animal-friendly.

Summary: How to reduce toxic load from the “dirty dozen”

  • Remove lead paint from your home
  • Wash your hands after gardening
  • Reduce your exposure by using a water filter that lowers chemical levels
  • Buy organic produce and meat
  • Do not use paper or plastics that contain BPA or are marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate (recycling label #7)
  • Install a reverse osmosis filter
  • Eat fewer animal products including meat, fish, milk, eggs and butter
  • Research what compounds are used in toys
  • Avoid using plastic wrap made from PVC (which has a recycling label #3)
  • Read the labels and avoid products that list “fragrance” since this may mean there are hidden phthalates.
  • Find phthalate-free personal care products
  • Do not use non-stick pans or stain and water-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture and carpets (replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware).
  • Reduce exposure to toxic dust by using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  • Avoid re-upholstering furniture
  • Use a mask when replacing old carpet

References

Kavlock et al., 1996, EPA, 1997 “Non-toxic flame retardants.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2013.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130723073949.htm

http://www.healthybuilding.net/healthcare/2009-04-20PFCs_fact_sheet.pdf

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~toxmetal/research-projects/arsenic-endocrine-disruptor.html

http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/bisphenol-a-endocrine-disruptors_n_1385945.html

http://www.epa.gov/endo/