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EDCs are making us sick, and we need to talk about it

Do you remember when it was fine to smoke in doctors offices, exhaling carcinogens wherever you pleased…no? Neither do I. Because in 1964 the Surgeon General issued a report on the dangers of smoking. Regulations around the sale of tobacco soon followed, requiring warning labels, and schools started to educate on health risks of smoking.

My question is why has this not yet happened for Endocrine Disrupting chemicals? They are equally if not more damaging than cigarettes, and are ubiquitous in nearly all consumer products from paint to toothpaste, fabrics, home cleaning supplies, and definitely personal care products. The ‘Big 3’ sources of EDCs include: pesticides, petroleum, and plastics.

What are Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals?

Endocrine disrupting chemicals or ‘EDCs’ are compounds, both synthetic and naturally occurring, that interfere with the way your body’s hormones work (Endocrine Society).

They disrupt in 3 ways:
  • Mimic naturally occurring hormones
  • Block hormone receptors so that hormones cannot attach and signal functions in the body
  • Interfere with the way hormone receptors are made or controlled, such as altering the cellular metabolism or preventing your body from making enough receptors

In 2023 searches for endocrine disrupting chemicals rose by 40%, indicating a growing awareness, yet to many people these chemicals that wreak havoc on hormones are still completely foreign.

How EDCs Impact Our Health

When hormones are disrupted everything in our body is sent out of whack; our body is either sending the wrong signals or diverting resources necessary to carry out necessary functions. This results in the rise and prevalence of conditions such as:

  • Cancers: especially breast, uterine and ovarian
  • Fertility issues: infertility, miscarriages, preterms birth, and pregnancy complications
  • Sexual development and reproductive issues: early puberty, irregular periods, PCOS, Endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, early and severe menopausal symptoms
  • Metabolic issues: weight gain, diabetes, higher cholesterol, and metabolic syndrome
  • Thyroid Diseases: Hashimoto's / Hypothyroidism, Graves disease
  • Decreased responsiveness to vaccines
  • Asthma
  • Neurobehavioral issues (ADHD)

I myself only learned about endocrine disruptors when I was in the throws of infertility, desperate for answers that could help me start a family. I found Rebecca Fett’s It Starts with an Egg, a book that focuses on how EDCs impact egg quality and in turn fertility. I soon learned that the impacts of EDCs on our health go much further beyond that.

As the founder of a functional medicine and beauty brand, creating products that are safe for hormones and health is non negotiable. This actually posed quite a challenge for the chemists that helped formulate Veracity’s skincare – because they had never done it before! And it eliminated many of the ingredients they typically relied on to achieve the desired result. It is my commitment to invest in, and stay on top of research so that we can offer our clients the most effective toxin free solutions.

Throughout my journey as a founder (and bonafide nerd), I have had the opportunity to deepen my own understanding of toxins in beauty products – where they come from, what they really do and why they are in there in the first place.

Participating in the Health and Human Services First Summit on women’s health and endocrine disrupting chemicals this summer, I was shocked by the dark history that has brought us to where we are today from a regulatory standpoint on EDCs.

The chemical companies DuPont and 3M have been shown to have known about the impact of EDCs for years. First observing and then studying the impact of chemical exposure in their employees. These studies, even when shared with the government, were completely ignored for decades.

This is because our system is built off of reactions to disasters versus preemptive testing and research. A key example of this is when a drug called DES, heavy in synthetic estrogens, was given to over 10 million pregnant women to help prevent miscarriage.This lasted until the early 1970’s when the data showed beyond a reasonable doubt that it caused uterine cancer in the offspring of women taking the drug.

I’ve also learned that women are disproportionately affected by EDCs. The reason is twofold. First, most EDCs mimic and disrupt estrogen, and because women have more estrogen in their bodies they are more impacted. Second, is because women are more marketed to – and use many more personal care items than men. Think hair relaxers, nail polish, tampons, cosmetics, perfume… It should be noted that people of all genders use many of these products, but during the last 100 years they have mostly been targeted toward females.

The upside is that you CAN do something about it and that a little bit goes a long way. Studies have shown that small changes like not eating packaged foods or using Colgate toothpaste for as little as 3 days can decrease exposure levels of BPA by 65% and phthalates by half.

3 Easy Ways to Limit EDC Exposure

  • Reduce exposure to plastics, and use glass whenever possible (source). If plastic cannot be avoided, choose BPA-free. Note – all plastics marked with recycle code 3 or 7 may contain BPA.
  • Check your local water quality with the EPA and invest in a high quality water filter if necessary. Carbon block filters are the best for removing pesticides and other EDCs.
  • Use EDC-free beauty and personal care products. You can refer to clean beauty apps or ingredients with an EWG rating of 1 or 2. Make sure to look out for natural EDCs such as lavender and tea tree oil.
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