In recent weeks, two major medical organizations have issued independent warnings about toxic chemicals in products all around us. Unregulated substances, they say, are sometimes linked to breast and prostate cancer, genital deformities, obesity, diabetes and infertility.
· The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics warned “Widespread exposure to toxic environmental chemicals threatens healthy human reproduction.”
· The gynecology federation’s focus is on endocrine disrupters, chemicals that imitate sex hormones and often confuse the body. Endocrine disrupters are found in pesticides, plastics, shampoos and cosmetics, cash register receipts, food can linings, flame retardants and countless other products.
· “Exposure to toxic chemicals during pregnancy and lactation is ubiquitous”
· Almost every pregnant woman in America has at least 43 different chemical contaminants in her body.
· According to a National Cancer Institute report “to a disturbing extent babies are born ‘pre-polluted.”
· The warning was drafted by experts from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the World Health Organization, Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and similar groups
· They say there are rising cases of hypospadias, a birth defect in which boys are born with a urethra opening on the side of the penis rather than at the tip.
· They are also treating women with breast cancer.
o Both are conditions linked to early exposure to endocrine disrupters.
· Increasing evidence also ties endocrine disrupters to infertility, prostate cancer, undescended testicles, testicular cancer, breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and neurological issues.
· Sometimes these problems apparently arise in adults because of exposures decades earlier in fetal stages.
· Of the 80,000 or more chemicals in global commerce today, only a tiny share have been rigorously screened for safety.
· For now, experts say the best approach is for people to try to protect themselves.
· Especially for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, and for young children
· Try to eat organic, reduce the use of plastics, touch cash register receipts as little as possible, try to avoid flame-retardant couches
HARMFUL EVERYDAY PRODUCTS AND WHAT TO USE INSTEAD
1. Plastic food containers.
a. Plastic breaks down over time, and this breakdown can release dangerous chemicals into your food. Many plastic containers are made from chemicals including phthalates, which act as endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Alternative: Switch to glass containers.
2. Prepared foods in plastic containers
a. You don’t have to throw these out, but don’t heat them up in the plastic.
b. Heating plastic can release chemicals that seep into your food.
Alternative: Take an a few extra seconds to transfer prepared foods into a glass container before heating them in the microwave.
3. Nonstick pans
a. Many nonstick pans contain trace amounts of a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
b. The pans’ non-stick lining can scratch or chip off into your food.
Alternative: Use cast iron or stainless steel cookware, and natural, non-stick sprays such as olive oil.
4. Air fresheners
a. Anything you breathe in eventually ends up in your bloodstream.
b. Plug-in scents or synthetically scented candles many contain chemicals called phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive problems.
Alternative: Choose candles made with essential oils and fresh flowers to scent your home. Also, try using baking soda and white vinegar as odor absorbers.
a. Perfume can contain up to 300 chemical ingredients.
Alternative: Avoid perfumes and colognes or switch to products that are scented with natural oils.
6. Fabric and upholstery protection sprays
a. Stain blockers essentially create an invisible plastic barrier over your furniture.
b. This plastic will eventually wear off and be released into your home environment.
Alternative: Clean stains as necessary rather than trying to prevent them.
7. Cleaning products
a. Check the labels of cleaning products for chemical ingredients such as phthalates and chemical surfactants.
Alternative: Use natural products like baking soda, Borax, soap powder, vinegar, lemon and hot water.
a. The average American woman applies up to 12 personal care items, and the average man up to six, to their skin each day.
b. That adds up to roughly 126 unique ingredients, according to the Environmental Working Group, a public health advocacy organization.
Alternative: Opt for cosmetics with mineral-based pigments and natural oils. Choose soaps and shampoos free of synthetic fragrances and chemicals such as triclosan, which has been found in animal studies to alter hormone regulation.
a. Many antiperspirants use aluminum-based compounds and other chemicals, which are absorbed into the sweat glands.
b. Avoid any chemicals that are absorbed into the body for non-medical purposes.
Alternative: Try aluminum-free antiperspirants, or natural deodorant sticks and sprays that don’t contain parabens and all ingredients with ‘PEG’ in their name.
10. Sunscreens with oxybenzone
a. Research on animals suggests that chemicals in some sunscreens, including oxybenzone, may cause health problems when they penetrate the skin.
b. Avoid aerosol spray sunscreens, which you can accidentally inhale, as well as sunscreens containing chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A), and fragrances.
Alternative: The safest sunscreens are made from minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.