Chemical exposure may be linked to rising rates in diabetes and obesity

According to a statement issued three days ago by the Endocrine Society, their summary links endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure to two of our biggest public health risks, diabetes and obesity.

This news builds upon the Endocrine Society’s 2009 report, which examined the scientific evidence on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and the health risks associated with them. Since 2009, additional research has demonstrated that exposure to EDCs is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and obesity. Evidence indicates that this exposure is also linked to infertility, hormone-related cancers, neurological issues and other chronic diseases.

EDCs mimic, block or interfere with the body’s natural hormones and, as a result, they alter the way cells proliferate and develop.

Examples of EDCs:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) – found in food can linings and cash register receipts
  • Phthalates – found in plastics (PVC products, vinyl shower curtains) and cosmetics (perfumes, nail polish, lotions)
  • Flame retardants, solvents, lubricants (PCBs, PBBs, and PBDEs)
  • Pesticides (sprayed on conventional fruits and vegetables), insecticides
  • Heavy metals – cadmium, lead, arsenic, mercury

Today, these chemicals are so common that exposure to them has touched each and every one of us. An analysis published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism earlier this year (March 2015) estimated that EDC exposure will likely cost the European Union $209 billion a year in actual health care expenses and lost earning potential. And the evidence is mounting. Hundreds of studies have confirmed over and over again that EDCs disrupt hormones in a manner that harms human health.

The danger is of particular concern to unborn children who are exposed to EDCs. Studies have demonstrated that exposure to even very small amounts of EDCs during pregnancy can trigger obesity in the child later in life. Furthermore, studies have also found that some EDCs directly target beta and alpha cells in the pancreas, fat cells, and liver cells, which can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

This recent report also linked EDCs to reproductive health issues, hormone-related cancers, prostate disorders, thyroid disease, and neurodevelopmental issues. Most of us are already aware that many of these conditions have been linked to EDCs; however, the number of supportive studies continues to grow.

The truth is, we all live in an ever-increasing toxic environment. More than 80,000 chemicals are introduced into the world each year. We are exposed to pesticides, herbicides, chemical solvents, xenobiotics, and industrial chemicals of all kinds through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. These toxins accumulate in our bodies and contribute to the total toxic load that can cause a variety of health problems. Keep in mind that our indoor environment is likely more toxic than our outdoor environment.

Tips to Help Avoid EDCs:

  • Eat organic produce (join your local CSA)
  • Buy free-range, organic meats to reduce exposure from added hormones and pesticides
  • Buy products available in glass containers rather than plastic or cans when possible
  • Cookware: replace non-stick pans with glass, ceramic, or cast iron
  • Drink filtered water
  • Use a shower head with a filter
  • Use household products that are free of fragrances, phthalates and BPA

Nutritional Support for Detoxification

There is significant evidence on the importance of diet and nutritional supplementation in maintaining detoxification pathways.

  • Milk Thistle is one of the most protective herbs for the liver with hundreds of studies that confirm its protective properties.
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine supports phase II detoxification and is a precursor to glutathione.
  • Calcium D-Glucarate aids in liver detoxification through the glucuronidation pathway. Xenobiotics, environmental toxins, and excess estrogens are cleared through this pathway.
  • EGCg is the most extensively studied green tea polyphenol. Green tea supports detoxification by enhancing the glucuronidation pathway; in addition, it helps modulate blood glucose, and offers antioxidant and cancer-protective properties.
  • A safe and effective detoxification program is an ideal way to promote healthy liver function and elimination.

Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals is virtually impossible to avoid. We need to do our best to limit our exposure and make wise lifestyle and nutritional choices in order to properly detoxify these chemicals.

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