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Ask St. Eden: What Are Endocrine Disruptors and How Do We Avoid Them

So you've been given this human body, with little to no instruction on how to preserve your human health, and as we become more inundated in modern society, we are more exposed to toxic compounds that affect important bodily functions like our endocrine system.

The endocrine system is a network of hormone-producing glands, and plays a vital role in all phases of development, metabolism, and reproduction. It controls and regulates complex activities in the body by secreting hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are messengers that bring information to cells and help maintain whole-body balance or homeostasis, and endocrine disruptive substances pose significant risk to your health and wellness, by increasing production of certain hormones and decrease production of others, imitating hormones themselves, turning one hormone into another, binding with hormones, and interfering with hormone signalling, YIKES!

These disruptive substances are ubiquitous in our everyday lives, and are often found in common household items such as plastic goods, cosmetics, fragrances, food, food packaging, and even tap water. These disruptors have been linked to cancer, lowered sperm count, lowered IQ, thyroid disease, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Babies and children are at the greatest risk for adverse effects.

Here are some of the most common endocrine disruptors—and how to avoid them.


Phthalates are plasticizer chemicals found in “fragrance,” PVC plastic, toys, and plastic wrap. Studies have linked phthalates to birth defects in the male reproductive system, lower sperm count, lower sperm motility, miscarriages, and gestational diabetes.

How to reduce your exposure to phthalates: Read ingredient labels. Avoid products that list phthalates as an ingredient as well as those that list “fragrance.” Keep in mind that fragrance can show up in unexpected places, like diapers and garbage bags.


Perchlorate is a component in rocket fuel, explosives, fireworks, and road flares.

When perchlorate enters the body, it interferes with iodine uptake—an important nutrient that promotes healthy function of the thyroid gland. If you ingest too much perchlorate, you can alter your thyroid hormone balance, ultimately affecting your metabolism and brain and organ development in infants and children.

How to reduce your exposure to perchlorate: Buying a water filter is a good way to reduce your ingestion of perchlorate in your water source. Also, ensuring you have adequate intake of iodine in your diet may mitigate the effects of perchlorate on your thyroid.


Organophosphate pesticides were developed to target the nervous systems of insects that disrupt agricultural practices and crop maintenance.

Many studies have linked organophosphate exposure to brain development and reproductive defects, though they are still widely used today. Namely, organophosphates affect the way testosterone, a male sex hormone, communicates with cells in the body. It has been shown to alter thyroid hormone levels.

How to reduce your exposure to organophosphate pesticides: Buying organic produce will help limit your exposure to all pesticides, including organophosphate pesticides.

Glycol Ethers

Glycol ethers are man-made chemicals present in a wide variety of personal, household, and industrial products. They’re used in degreasers, adhesives, cleaners, dyes, inks, water-based paints, lacquers, perfumes, and cosmetics.

Some studies have linked exposure to certain glycol ethers to blood abnormalities and spontaneous abortion.[12] Research is also discovering that aerosol ether products may be linked to asthma and allergies.

How to avoid glycol ethers: Since glycol ethers are so prevalent, it’s hard to avoid them completely. The safest way to avoid exposure is to avoid products with ingredients such as 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME). When possible, opt for natural cleaning products.

Yes, I know It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the ubiquity of these endocrine disruptice chemicals, but you have the power to make safe, smart, healthy choices in your everyday actions.

To limit exposure and protect your body, buy products from ethically driven and environmentally conscious brands that have your best interest at heart. Subscribe to

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