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As we age, the endocrine system undergoes age-related changes that negatively affect its functioning. As a result, we are more prone to disrupted sleep patterns, slowing metabolism, bone density loss, body fat accumulation, and increases in blood glucose. We can’t stop time, so outside of what is ultimately inevitable for each of us, what can we do to mitigate compounded endocrine problems?

Certain substances affect our endocrine system by interfering with hormones’ normal functions. Found everywhere in our everyday lives, these substances are in common household items such as plastic goods, personal-care products, fragrances, food and food packaging, and even tap water. Studies have linked them to cancer, lowered sperm count, lowered IQ, thyroid disease, birth defects, and other disorders.

Where do these sneaky disruptors live? How do we avoid them?

Here are 3 of the most pervasive to be on the look for:

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA is found in the lining of canned foods, food-packaging materials, certain plastic bottles, and cash register receipts. BPA has been linked to breast and other cancers, reproductive and fertility issues, obesity, and early puberty.

Here are some ways to reduce your exposure.

  • Say no to receipts, since thermal paper is often coated with BPA.

  • Avoid plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7

  • Substitute fresh, frozen, or dried food for canned.


Phthalates are plasticizer chemicals found in some fragrances, PVC plastic, toys, and plastic wrap. Studies have linked phthalates to birth defects, lower sperm count, miscarriages, and gestational diabetes.

  • Avoid plastic food containers.

  • 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.

PFAS chemicals

These include more than 4,700 chemicals, some linked to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immunity, and developmental defects, and others whose health effects are unknown. These nonstick, waterproof, grease-resistant chemicals are used to make cookware, waterproof clothing, coatings on upholstered furniture and carpeting, and food packaging.

Drinking water is one of the most common sources of exposure to PFAS chemicals.

Here’s how to avoid PFAS chemicals:

  • Buy a water filter to remove or reduce PFAS chemicals from your tap water. RO systems (reverse osmosis) are the best way to filter out PFAS chemicals.

  • Avoid brands like Teflon, Scotchgard, Stainmaster, Polartec, or Gore-Tex.

  • Skip the optional stain-repellent treatment on new carpets and furniture. Many of these coatings are made with PFAS chemicals.

  • Cut back on fast food, which often comes in PFAS-treated wrappers and food packaging.

  • Pop popcorn on a stovetop. Microwaveable popcorn bags are usually coated with PFAS chemicals on the inside.

Do not use nonstick pans and kitchen utensils that are manufactured with PFAS chemicals.

Most of us are already dealing with some level of hormone changes. Hot flashes are twice as prevalent among menopausal women as they were 50 years ago, and evidence suggests that endocrine disruptors may be contributing to this concerning increase. No matter your age, its always a good time to be mindful of behaviors that can help promote optimal endocrine function. Maybe next time you checkout at the grocery store, just skip the receipt!


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