Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) and Hormone Health

Written by Amy Hess-Fischl MS, RD, LDN, BC-ADM, CDE

EDCs linked to diabetes, infertility, cancer, and more

Endocrine disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, are chemicals that act the same as, block, or change the way that natural hormones act in the body. Many researchers believe that the growing use of EDCs over the past 20 years has contributed to the rising number of people with diseases such as diabetes, infertility, cancer, among other conditions.

These chemicals may be found in the air, water, and soil around the world as well as things used in everyday  life day, including children’s toys, cleaning products, lotions, shampoos, and cosmetics.

While it is not clear how many EDCs there are, common EDCs include:

While some EDCs, like DDT and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), are no longer used, these chemicals may stay in water and ground for decades. Some EDCs are stored in fat cells for years, and may be passed on to children during pregnancy or when breastfeeding. Other EDCs like BPA do not build-up in the body, so you can reduce your exposure by avoiding products containing BPA. Unfortunately, BPA is used in so many products that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that more than 96% of Americans have this chemical in their bodies.

What EDCs Do
Endocrine disrupting chemicals change the way hormones in the body are supposed to work. Like natural hormones, even small levels of EDCs can affect body functions.

Hormones are made by endocrine glands such as the ovaries, thyroid gland, pituitary gland, testes, pancreas, hypothalamus, and adrenal gland. Hormones are messengers in the body that trigger responses to help control a variety of functions, including how your body uses food (metabolism), growth, reproductive system, healing, blood sugar levels, mood, body temperature, and blood pressure. When hormones don’t act as they should, many normal body functions are changed, which can lead to diseases over time.

Endocrine disrupting hormones have been linked to the following conditions:

Tips to Avoid EDCs

Companies that make BPA-free canned foods include Amy’s, Eden Foods, Bionaturae canned tomatoes, Bumble Bee tuna, Earth’s Best, Farmer’s Market, Health Valley, Hain Pure Foods, Westbrae Natural, and many others.



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Environmental Working Group. Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors: 12 Hormone-Altering Chemicals and How to Avoid Them. http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors. Accessed May 3, 2015.

Environmental Working Group. Consumer Guides. http://www.ewg.org/consumer-guides.  Accessed May 3, 2015.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fact Sheet: Bisphenol A. http://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/BisphenolA_FactSheet.html.  Accessed May 3, 2015.

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