The endocrine system is a series of glands that secretes and produces hormones that promotes growth and development, regulates metabolism, reproduction, sexual function, tissue function, mood, sleep, and many more. Our endocrine system plays a vital role in regulating and controlling various bodily functions to promote healthy body development throughout life.
Many chemicals, both man-made and natural, have the capability to mimic our body’s hormones. These EDCs trick our body by acting like “hormone mimics” to block our original bodily hormones from performing their job. This is linked to various immune, brain, reproductive, developmental, and other problems.
EDCs can be found in many common products such as containers, metal food cans, plastic bottles, detergents, toys, cosmetics, pesticides, and flame retardants.
Some EDCs are found to either decrease or increase the blood hormone levels by disrupting how they are created, broken down, or kept in our body. While other EDCs may change our body’s sensitivity to various hormones–which leads to numerous health complications and alterations, such as sex organ abnormalities, fertility and sperm quality, early puberty, endometriosis, immune function, nervous system function, respiratory problems, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, certain types of cancers, and many more.
The Common EDCs
* BISPHENOL A (BHA) – this chemical is most commonly used to make epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics, that are prevalent in many plastic food containers, beverage linings, and other plastic products.
* DIOXINS – this highly toxic chemical is a byproduct of paper bleaching and herbicide production. It is also known as “dirty dozen,” and is often released by burning wastes and garbage.
* PERCHLORATE – is both a man-made and naturally occurring chemical that is most commonly used in the pharmaceutical, weapon, and aerospace industries. This chemical can migrate from the stomach and intestine to the bloodstream after oral exposure, through drinking water with perchlorate.
* PERFLUOROALKYL AND POLYFLUOROALKYL SUBSTANCES (PFAS) – this man-made chemical is widely used to make various types of everyday products such as non-stick pan, textile coatings, paper, and firefighting foams.
* PHTHALATES – are a family of chemical compounds that are most commonly found in cosmetics, food packaging, medical devices and children’s toys. They are present in a lot of everyday products that we use, as well as the food that we eat.
* PHYTOESTROGENS – are compounds that naturally occur in a wide range of plants. These compounds are most present in daidzein and genistein, which are included in soy products, such as soy milk or tofu.
* POLYBROMINATED DIPHENYL ETHERS (PBDE) – are industrical toxic flame retardant chemicals that are commonly found in household products such as carpets, furniture, mattresses and electronics.
* POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCB) – are a group of man-made organic chemicals that are persistent in chemicals and products that are commonly used to make hydraulic fluids, plasticizers, lubricant, heat transfer fluids, and other electrical equipment.
* TRICLOSAN – can be found in some personal care and anti-microbial products such as soap or body wash.
Connection Between EDC and Leptin Resistance
Leptin is a type of hormone that is naturally produced in our body. It is primarily in charge of sending signals to the brain, particularly to the hypothalamus, to regulate a person’s food consumption and control body weight. This hormone is often referred to as the “starvation hormone” or the “satiety hormone” because of its ability to suppress one’s food intake and induce weight loss in the long-run.
This hormone works by informing our brain that there is enough fat in our body, which will lead to the reduction of appetite and allow our body to burn more fat and calories in the process. It also helps with the regulation of blood sugar levels, since both insulin and leptin share some common effects in the regulation of food intake and energy metabolism. Moreover, according to a study conducted by the Jackson Laboratories, a wide variety of endocrine dysfunction, immune disturbances, and other body weight issues can be regulated by leptin.
Given the fact that these endocrine disrupting chemicals have the ability to trick our body and mimic certain hormones like leptin, these endocrine disrupting chemicals can impair the hormones that regulate body weight and metabolism–which makes losing weight a serious struggle and may eventually result in obesity.