What are Endocrine Disruptors?

There are many aspects of everyday life that can contribute to, and impact on, hormonal imbalance. This may include electronic devices, pollution, pesticides, chemical exposure, food ingredients, negative emotions and stress are just a few of hormone disruptors that can have profound effects on our hormone balance. Recognizing the dangers of hormone disruptors in the environment can give us the ability to minimize our contact
with them and help us protect our body’s innate intelligence and vitality.

Many chemicals, both natural and man-made, may mimic or interfere with the body’s hormones, known as the endocrine system. Called endocrine disruptors, these chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastics, Phthalates and Parabens are only some that are linked with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune, and other problems. In this post I will talk about Parabens as they are found in so many products that we use everyday.

Parabens

Parabens are synthetic chemicals that are used as preservatives in a variety of products, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food. As preservatives, parabens give products a longer shelf-life and prevent harmful bacteria and mold from growing in the products.

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The most common types of parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben and isobutylparaben. Because this preservative is found in a wide variety of foods and beverages around 90 percent of common items found in grocery stores contain parabens including beer, syrups, salad dressings, jams, canned foods, frozen desserts and other frozen dairy products. They are also found in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other personal care products, paraben exposure occurs when these products are swallowed or absorbed through the skin.

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Parabens are used in a wide variety of leave-on and rinse-off products, especially those with a high- water content, such as shampoos and conditioners, which people use every day. Their antimicrobial properties are most effective against fungi and gram-positive bacteria. Moisturizers, face and skin cleaners, sunscreens, deodorants, shaving gels, toothpastes, makeup and many other products contain parabens.

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The concern with these chemicals is that scientific studies suggest that parabens can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer. They can also cause skin irritation. Moreover, studies have detected parabens in nearly all urine samples taken from adults in the U.S., regardless of demographic. Given the endocrine disruption capacity and documented female and male reproductive harm, coupled with the potential for repeated lifelong exposure, it is clear that long-chain parabens (isobutyl-, butyl-, isopropyl- and propylparaben) should not be used in personal care or cosmetic products.

There have been actions to protect against parabens by some governments bans and retailers. Major retailers in the U.S. have planned or already have in place active bans or restrictions.

Ways to Avoid Parabens

There are ways to avoid parabens or at least reduce our exposure. Firstly, the more fresh food we eat that doesn’t require preservatives, the less parabens we will likely be getting. Buy natural skin care products noting there is an increasing number of product lines selling natural personal care products and makeup items. Be sure to read the ingredient label so you know what you are getting, all paraben-based chemical names end with “paraben. There’s a wide array of paraben-free beauty brands and cosmetic formulas that can reduce your paraben exposure. Many natural products use paraben substitutes like grapeseed oil, jojoba, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Use common household substitutes for store-bought products. Parabens can be found in items like toothpaste and shaving gels. You can brush your teeth with baking soda, and your bar of soap makes just as good a lather for shaving as a can of shaving gel. Many kitchen staples, including honey, olive oil, oatmeal and yogurt are great for the skin.

References

  1. What Are Parabens? (2019) https://www.livescience.com/64862-what-are-parabens.html
  2. WHAT ARE PARABENS, AND WHY DON’T THEY BELONG IN COSMETICS? (2019) https://www.ewg.org/californiacosmetics/parabens
  3. 6 Ways to Avoid Parabens (2015) https://www.ecowatch.com/6-ways-to-avoid-parabens-1882012057.html
  4. Endocrine Disruptors: 14 Common Chemicals That Affect Your Hormones (2018) https://greensmoothiegirl.com/endocrine-disruptors/
  5. Endocrine Disruptors (2020) https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm
  6. What Does Paraben-Free Mean in Beauty Products? (2020) https://www.healthline.com/health/paraben-free
  7. The Nutrition Academy, Applied Functional Nutrition Course, Module 3: Food and your Hormones

Courses for further learning:

Introduction to Nutrition Course https://thenutrition.academy/introduction-to-nutrition-course/
Functional Nutrition Course https://thenutrition.academy/functional-nutrition-course/

Sign up today!

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