Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body coordinating complex processes like growth, metabolism, and fertility. They can influence the function of the immune system, and even alter behavior. In response to a signal from the brain, hormones are secreted directly into the blood by the glands that produce and store them. These glands make up what is known as the endocrine system (endocrine means “secreting internally”). Chemicals that interfere with the function of hormones are therefore known as endocrine disruptors (ED’s).
Endocrine disruptors can:
- Mimic or partly mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body like estrogen (the female sex hormone), androgen (the male sex hormone), and thyroid hormones, potentially producing overstimulation.
- Bind to a receptor within a cell and block the endogenous hormone from binding. The normal signal then fails to occur and the body fails to respond properly. Examples of chemicals that block or antagonize hormones are anti-estrogens and anti-androgens.
- Interfere or block the way natural hormones or their receptors are made or controlled, for example, by altering their metabolism in the liver.
- Check my post out about sunscreen and endocrine disruptors.
Where are ED’s found? Unfortunately everywhere.
- personal care products
- phytoestrogens (naturally occurring substances in plants that have hormone-like activity. Examples: genistein and daidzein, which can be found in soy-derived products.
- dioxin and dioxin-like compounds
- polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- DDT and other pesticides
- plasticizers such as bisphenol A.
- diethylstilbestrol (the synthetic estrogen DES)
- For more information, please visit the National Institute of Evironmental Health and Science https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm