A recent study followed 20 San Francisco residents after they agreed to consume only fresh, organic, non-processed, unpackaged food for three days. The researchers tested their levels of BPAs and DEHP before and after. The researchers found that their levels of BPA and DEHP fell after just three days. This is good news. By eating more fruits and vegetables and less food that is packaged in plastics or metal cans will help you reduce your exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals.
Now let’s get to the basics: what are hormone-disrupting chemicals and why do you need to know about them? Hormone-disrupting chemical are a variety of chemical classes, including hormones, plant constituents, pesticides, compounds used in the plastics industry and in consumer products, and other industrial by-products and pollutants. The health effects linked to endocrine disrupting compounds include reproductive problems (such as reduced fertility and male and female reproductive tract abnormalities), miscarriages or spontaneous abortions, menstrual problems; changes in hormone levels; early puberty; behavior problems; impaired immune functions; and various cancers.
And you are probably wondering too how does the endocrine system work? The endocrine system secretes all the different types of hormones that run our internal engines. Hormones are secreted in response to stimulus in the environment and cause developmental and reproductive changes. The disruption of the system, in theory, is that the exposure to chemicals that interact with hormones may interfere with reproduction and physical development. What is interesting about this theory is that it also takes into account that the timing of exposure is critical, since different hormones are active during different stages of development. In particular, children are most at risk because they are growing rapidly. For example, disruption of thyroid function during early development may be the cause of abnormal sexual development, motor development impairment, and learning disabilities.
Why is this important? It is important because food is one of the main ways we are exposed to pollutants. The different types of common endocrine disruptors are: DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), bisphenol A, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s) and phthalates. One last thing: Julia Brody, Executive Director of the Silent Spring Institute stated that “This is the first study to provide clear evidence that food packaging is a major source of BPA and DEHP exposure in children and adults.” If you have not read Silent Spring, I highly recommend it.