what are xenoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens are external estrogens found in the environment, beauty products + cleaning products. They can be derived from natural sources or chemical sources [see below for examples]. Upon entering the body, xenoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors, resulting in an overall increase in the amount of circulating estrogen + the disruption of other hormones in the body.
Due to this high-level hormone disruption, xenoestrogens have been termed “endocrine disrupting chemicals” [EDCs]. According to the scientists who first coined this term, EDCs are compounds that “interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body that are responsible for the development, behavior, fertility and maintenance of homeostasis”.
why should I be concerned?
Long-term exposure to exogenous estrogens can have detrimental effects on both men and women alike. Over time, xenoestrogens have a compound [bioaccumulative] effect on the body, resulting in:
• estrogen dominance
• weight gain
• cancers of the reproductive system
• developmental / growth delays in children
• decreased immunity
Not only do these compounds affect humans, there is research to suggest their detrimental effects on wildlife as well. This means our pets could also suffer with long-term exposure to external estrogens.
where are xenoestrogens found?
The main sources of xenoestrogen exposure are:
• plastics [bisphenol A [BPA] + phthalates + others]
• personal care products [parabens]
• sunscreens [benzophenone-2 + 4-methylbenzylidene camphor]
• pesticides [such as DDT] + fungicides + herbicides
• food preservatives [butylated hydroxyanisole]
• synthetic fragrances
• flame retardants in clothes + furniture
• tap water
how can I limit my exposure?
While it is impossible to completely eliminate exposure to xenoestrogens, consider taking the following steps to ensure you are minimizing your exposure as much as possible:
• buy organic whenever possible [animals + plants]
• run your personal care + home cleaning products through the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic database + household database
• install a whole-house water filter
• use essential oils for home + body fragrance
• don’t wear shoes in the house
• aim to limit the use of plastic whenever possible [opt for glass, beeswax, parchment paper + silicone]
Because of their widespread use + ability to persist in the environment, xenoestrogen exposure cannot be completely avoided. However, be encouraged! You can limit your personal exposure just by adjusting a couple of buying habits + household products. Your choices in the store WILL inform the future of products on the shelves.