You never took the Pill or HRT? That doesnt mean your hormones cant be affected by endocrine disruptors. The chemicals are in what you eat and drink, the air you breathe, and products you use, says Nena Baker, author of The Body Toxic.
Pesticides and herbicides can seep into the drinking supply through groundwater, and many of them mimic or interfere with estrogen in the body. One of the biggest potential threats is a herbicide called atrazine. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says its safe for people to ingest drinking water at levels of 3 parts per billion, some scientists think this “safe” level is way too high. While they duke it out, buy a pitcher, or an under-the-sink or a faucet-mounted carbon-based filter that nabs atrazine.
The chemicals behind those fresh and flowery smells in many household cleaners, air fresheners, and body soaps and lotions often belong to a class of endocrine disruptors called phthalates. Phthalates are so ubiquitousmore than 1 billion tons are made worldwide each yeartheyre present in the blood of up to 97 percent of Americans. Studies link phthalate exposure to hormone disruption, particularly genital abnormalities of baby boys whose moms were exposed, and lower sperm counts in men. Many major cosmetics companies are phasing out phthalates; to find out if theyre in your favorite products, visit CosmeticsDatabase.com.
Once researched as a synthetic estrogen, bisphenol A (BPA) found a second job as a building block of hard plastics. Today, 6 billion pounds of BPA are made annually, and the stuff appears in the blood of 93 percent of Americans ages 6 and up.
Some experts suspect certain chemicalsparticularly hormones in meatof contributing to earlier puberty in girls. “Im worried about cattle being injected with estrogen. When you eat those kinds of hormones, the body can absorb them,” says Andrea Gore, PhD, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Texas at Austin. If you have limited funds to spend on organic or hormone-free foods, consider putting meat tops on your list.