Chemicals that Mess with Your
Hormones Can Switch on Cancer
March 20th, 2013 by Holly Cornish
Man-made chemicals are everywhere — in our food, our homes and workplaces, and even our natural waterways. There’s no escaping them.
Recently I’ve come across chilling proof that one particular class of chemicals — those that disrupt our endocrine systems — is causing disastrous health effects. The statistics guys are seeing a spike in multiple kinds of cancers, as revealed in a recent investigative report put together by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme.
Let me help you avoid these toxins and boost your body’s ability to detoxify. . .
Continued below. . .
Who’s Winning The War In Your Gut?
Right now there’s a war raging inside your digestive tract.
Billions of “good guy” beneficial bacteria (called probiotics, which literally means “for life”) are defending you against an army of nasty pathogens.
Your total health depends upon the good guys winning the war.
But if you suffer frequent gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, these are warning signs that your good guys are losing the war within. And fiber supplements, laxatives, acid-fighters — even common probiotics — aren’t the solution.
Recent research from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School suggests these temporary fixes could be putting your gut health at risk.
These new studies indicate these problems are being caused by a lack of enzymes in your digestive tract.
Now, there’s an easy, a highly effective fix for these problems.
Too many connections between
chemicals and cancer
Humans and wildlife across the world are exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on a regular basis. EDCs get moved around the world through commerce and natural processes, like waterways, that carry pollutants to the ocean. And new sources of exposure are identified on a regular basis.
According to the WHO report, nearly 800 chemicals “are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis, or hormone conversion.” As yet, scientists have only investigated a small fraction of these chemicals. In fact, “the vast majority of chemicals in current commercial use have not been tested at all.”
Other information from the report:
- Global rates of endocrine-related cancers have been rising for the past 40-50 years (these include breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, testicular, and thyroid cancer).
- Hormonal changes that result from chemical disruption to the endocrine system lead to earlier breast development for young girls in every country where this phenomenon has been studied. Early breast development is a risk factor for breast cancer.
- High exposure to polychlorinated dioxins and to specific PCBs also boosts risk for breast cancer, particularly in those women whose bodies lack a certain detoxifying enzyme.
- Occupational exposure to pesticides, certain PCBs, and arsenic increases prostate cancer risk.
- Workers involved in applying pesticides show an excess risk of thyroid cancer (as do their wives — proof that people in this profession carry pesticide residue home with them).
Many other diseases on the upswing in recent years, from Type II Diabetes to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to infertility, also show direct links to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Plus, there are other common diseases that likely stem from EDC exposure: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, stroke, asthma, obesity … and the list goes on.
In fact, as much as 24 percent of human diseases and disorders are estimated to stem from environmental influences.
The bodily system you don’t want to mess with
Let me explain why your endocrine system is so easily disrupted by these chemicals that too often lead to cancer.
Hormones released by your endocrine system influence just about every process in your body. They regulate mood, growth and development, and sexual and reproductive processes. Your endocrine system is also in charge of tissue function, metabolism and essential body processes, like cell growth.
Think of the endocrine system as your body’s chemical messenger system. Picture different tissues that “talk” to each other using molecules (hormones). Endocrine glands release over 50 major hormones and hormone-related molecules directly into your bloodstream. From there, those hormones get transported to cells throughout your body and are responsible for a wide range of basic body functions.
Despite the high number of hormones circulating in your bloodstream, each one affects only the cells genetically programmed to receive and respond to a specific hormonal message. Those hormonal messages are influenced by things like stress, infection, and — our main topic today — endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are substances that enter your body from the outside and mess up your endocrine system in different ways, nearly all of them bad. The scary part is, we don’t know how they’re affecting us — only that the effect is negative.
How to limit your exposure to
The World Health Organization report calls for improved testing for EDCs followed by government bans of the offending chemicals. Great idea, but what are the chances of that happening anytime soon? Answer: slim to none.
What you can do is take charge of your life and pursue chemical-free living: Limit your exposure, and detoxify yourself on a regular basis.
EDCs enter your body in three ways: inhalation through your nose, ingestion through eating, or skin uptake (absorption through the skin). Here’s how you can limit your exposure:
- Check your makeup and personal care products — choose all-natural products and toss out any that contain man-made, synthetic chemicals.
- Make sure the rest of your personal care products are free of synthetic fragrance.
- Buy organic. Follow the “Dirty Dozen” concept I wrote about in Issue #40. That means the following fruits and vegetables should always be purchased organic: Peaches and nectarines, blueberries, apples, grapes, cherries, strawberries, celery, bell peppers, spinach, kale and collard greens, and potatoes.
- Drink purified water.
- Use natural cleaning products. You can’t beat vinegar and baking soda for most cleanup needs.
- Eat whole foods — nothing that’s processed or laced with preservatives.
- Make smart seafood choices and go for low-mercury fish (like sardines).
- Buy VOC-free for your house when possible (VOC = volatile organic compounds). Whether you’re buying new kitchen cabinets, a new mattress, or new flooring, purchase natural products if feasible.
- Start a kitchen garden and grow your own herbs (or buy organic herbs).
- Take off your shoes when you go in your house — and ask guests to do the same. This limits the amount of pesticides tracked into your home.
- Quit using insecticides and rodent poisons. Find a natural way to eliminate pests.
- Buy grass-fed meat. As a bonus, it tends to be leaner than meat from animals raised on grain.
- Cook with cast-iron cookware or stainless steel pots and pans. Avoid Teflon at all costs. (Learn more about Teflon risks from Issue #211.)
And here’s how you can work to get rid of EDCs already in your system:
- Detox regularly. I’m a strong advocate of infrared saunas for detox purposes (learn more from Issue #51, and again in Issue #263).
- Take turmeric supplements. They’ve been shown to help filter chemicals like BPA out of your body.
- Eat plenty of fiber to ensure you have a minimum of one bowel movement a day.
- Take probiotics, or add kefir to your diet, to help your gut escort toxins through your body and out of it.
- Drink water: number of ounces should be equal to half your body weight in pounds. For example, if you weigh 150, drink 75 ounces of water (vs. the 64 ounces or 8 cups you sometimes hear about). This helps push toxins through your system.
- Appropriate levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and iodine in your diet can help decrease toxin absorption.
Two other things we know: children (in the womb and during childhood) are at greatest risk. The most sensitive window of exposure to EDCs for the human body happens during critical periods of development, including fetal development and puberty.
Even if exposure doesn’t cause direct birth defects or immediate disease development, it can make a person more likely to develop other diseases throughout his or her lifetime. So speak up and intervene for the younger people in your life.
Overcome this worldwide health failure
The scariest thing about it all is that we don’t know the true extent of the chemical risks we face. There are still significant knowledge gaps when it comes to EDCs and endocrine-based diseases. Right now, there’s a strong association between EDC exposure and endometrial and ovarian cancer, but health policy makers are waiting for “proof.”
There’s a worldwide failure when it comes to addressing these health concerns. Even if we did know more, our current healthcare system isn’t capable of managing these risks and dealing with these disorders, and won’t be any time soon.
So while we wait for the government to reduce exposure through bans and restrictions (don’t hold your breath), the best we can do is independently limit exposure and detox regularly. I’ll add to the tips above in the coming months.
Lee Euler, Publisher