What are xenoestrogens?

Xenoestrogens are also known as endocrine disruptors.  They are environmental factors, considered a class chemicals, that alter the normal function of hormones, specifically estrogen.  This deregulation of estrogen in the body can lead to breast cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, miscarriages, diabetes and early onset puberty.

An endocrine-disrupting compound was defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “an exogenous agent that interferes with synthesis, secretion, transport, metabolism, binding action, or elimination of natural blood-borne hormones that are present in the body and are responsible for homeostasis, reproduction, and developmental process.”

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HOW THEY WORK IN THE BODY

Xenoestrogens mimic estrogen in the body, and have the ability to block or bind hormone receptors.  The functions of estrogen are primarily for reproduction, as well as blood clotting and bone growth.  When the amount of estrogen is not regulated, estrogen dominance occurs.  An excess of estrogen is implicated in many health problems, as noted above.

WHERE ARE XENOESTROGENS?

In a word, they are everywhere! Below are some common places you will find them.

  Skincare:

  • Parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben commonly used as a preservative)
  • Benzophenone (sunscreen lotions)

Industrial products and Plastics:

  • Bisphenol A (monomer for polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin; antioxidant in plasticizers)
  • Phthalates (plasticizers)
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

Food:

  • Erythrosine / FD&C Red No. 3
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole / BHA (food preservative)
  • Pesticide and insecticide residue

Insecticides:

  • Atrazine (weed killer)
  • DDT (insecticide, banned)
  • Dieldrin,  Endosulfan, Heptachlor, Methoxychlor (insecticides)
  • Lindane / hexachlorocyclohexane (insecticide, used to treat lice and scabies


Other Categories:

  • Chlorine and chlorine by-products
  • Ethinylestradiol (combined oral contraceptive pill)
  • Metalloestrogens (a class of inorganic xenoestrogens)
  • Alkylphenol (surfactant used in cleaning detergents)

 

HOW TO AVOID XENOESTROGENS

  • Choose organic, locally-grown foods as much as possible.
  • Peel non-organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Buy hormone-free meats and dairy products.
  • Reduce the use of plastics whenever possible, including plastic wrap.
  • Do not microwave food in plastic containers.
  • Do not leave plastic containers, especially your drinking water, in the sun.  If heated up, throw away.
  • Don’t refill plastic water bottles and avoid freezing for later use.
  • Use chemical free, biodegradable laundry and household cleaning products, and personal care products.
  • Use naturally based fragrances, such as essential oils.

Where are you exposed to xenoestrogens in your daily life?

Sources:

  1. Women in Balance
  2. Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 
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