Fact or Myth: Do Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Cause Obesity?

This is FACT.

There are many factors that have led to the current obesity epidemic, but they aren’t all related to diet and exercise. Research published December 2015 in Obesity Research and Clinical Practice suggests that obesity has some sneaky causes that many people may not be aware of. The study showed that participants would have a body mass index (BMI) 5 pounds heavier in 2006 than in 1988, despite following the exact same exercise and caloric intake program. These findings indicate that diet and exercise aren’t the only factors playing a role in weight gain. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) lurking in your food, personal care products, electronics, furniture, cleaning products, etc., may be causing obesity as well.

The Health Dangers of EDCs Plastic Products

A 2011 meta-analysis published in Obesity Reviews confirmed the link between obesity and exposure to EDCs. According to researchers, studies generally demonstrated that exposure to EDCs was linked to an increase in body size. While the link between obesity and exposure to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) varied according to dose, time, and gender, exposure to other chemicals maintained an association regardless of these factors. Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), hexachlorobenzene, polybrominated biphenyls, beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, oxychlordane, and phthalates were all associated with an increase in body size. And studies examining prenatal exposure to EDCs showed that exposure in utero may cause lasting physiological changes that can cause a predisposition for later weight gain.

Exposure to EDCs has also been linked to:

  • IQ decline and a decrease in intellectual capacity
  • Adult diabetes
  • ADHD
  • Reproductive issues
  • Cardiopulmonary disease
  • Prostate and breast cancers

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

“There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another;

… [I]nterfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones.”

 Reduce Exposure to EDCs

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are all around, but by shopping smart we can significantly reduce exposure to EDCs.

Avoid plastic whenever possible: Buy products housed in glass versus plastic or cans. Process and packaged foods, especially canned or wrapped in plastic, contain BPA and phthalates. Instead, fill your refrigerator with whole, fresh foods. Likewise, avoid heating plastic in the microwave, as heat causes EDCs to be released from plastic.

Buy from trustworthy, sustainable companies: Purchase as many products as possible… from food to furniture, personal care products to carpeting…from certified organic, GMO-free product lines. Search for green and toxin-free alternatives to paint and vinyl flooring. Efforts such as replacing your vinyl shower curtain with fabric can go a long way in protecting your health.

Clean air: Invest in an air purifier, and keep rooms well aired, vacuumed, and dusted regularly to remove chemicals that can be found indoors.

Get a water filter: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), virtually all forms of tap and bottled water contain at least some level of chemical contaminants. Choose a home water filter with activated carbon block water filters, which will remove most EDCs.

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