Hormone disruptors used in every day living
Plastics, plastics, plastics…they’re seen everywhere from the carton we buy much of our food in, to the containers that hold our beauty products, to the bottles that hold our water, to the cups we have in our cabinet, to the plastic bags and containers we may store food in, to the utensils we may eat our food with…PLASTICS ARE EVERYWHERE. We use them all of the time and most of the time, without realizing it. They’ve become so engrained into our day-to-day life and what’s so insane about it is not only do they severely harm our environment from production to disposal and all of the life that live in our environment, but we are actually poisoning ourselves little by little every single day from the hormone disrupting compounds found in plastics. Most of these hormone disruptors found in plastics haven’t been very well-studied and many are unknown, however, BPA (bisphenol A) has been a relatively large focus for the well-known EA (estrogenic activity) that it has. What this suggests is that BPA contains compounds that mimic estrogen (AKA xenoestrogens) due to their chemical structure so they produce estrogen-like effects in our bodies. In an excellent study conducted in 2011, it was clearly stated that in experimental animals, neonatal exposure to BPA commonly resulted in development of PCOS in adulthood. Not only does BPA have a serious impact on our health, but according to a study performed by a group of researchers in Texas, Bittner and his team discovered that there is a lot of evidence that there are other compounds found in plastic, even listed as BPA-free, that also produce EA. As you’ve already learned, women with PCOS have an excess amount of estrogen due to low levels of SHBG (sex-hormone binding globulin), then you add a xenoestrogen on top of it, and our bodies are registering an exceptionally high level of estrogen…Interestingly enough, there have been many studies that women with PCOS have a significantly higher amount of BPA in their blood stream compared to women that don’t have PCOS (Chatzigeorgiou et al, 2011).
This is some serious food for thought…
BPA & Insulin Resistance
Plastics are everywhere, and 15 years ago, although BPA and its risks have been documented since 1930s, the basic consumer really didn’t know all of the toxic effects that BPA would have on our bodies. To date, BPA and other compounds that produce EA, have been clearly noted that exposure in mammals, even at very low doses which is less than many are getting on a daily basis, can produce many health-related problems, such as early puberty in females, reduced sperm counts, altered functions of reproductive organs, obesity, altered sex-specific behaviors, and increased rates of some breast, ovarian, testicular, and prostate cancers. Scary, right?? It’s also important to point out that BPA has also been well-documented to cause issues with the development of insulin resistance. In an excellent study performed in 2006, Alonso-Magdalena and his team exposed rats to BPA (as well as estrogen and a placebo) at doses of normal human exposure, and it was discovered that throughout time, the rats exposed to excess estrogen as well as the rats exposed to “normal” amounts of BPA developed insulin resistance. As you are already aware, women with PCOS are already have a much higher risk of being insulin resistant, so an additional increased risk is something we desperately don’t need. It is important to note, though, that even if the plastic is labeled BPA-free, many plastics, regardless of the number, are still clocking in at high levels of EA.
BPA can be found in:
- polycarbonate plastics, which is a durable, hard type of plastic, such as containers that food and drinks, baby bottles, makeup containers, beauty products, plastic utensils, food storing products such as ziplocks and tupperware are made of
- the lining on the inside of canned foods
- CDs, DVDs, refrigerator shelving
- the inside of bottle caps
- water supply pipes
- dental equipment
Take home message-Knowledge IS Power
I understand that it’s very difficult to avoid plastics altogether because of the world we live in, but it’s crucial to really take into consideration to reduce your exposure to plastics as much as possible. It’s important to stick to containers that are made of glass, stainless steel or porcelain in order to keep your exposure as low as possible to the toxic effects of compounds that have EA. Also, when purchasing canned goods, purchase the cans that explicitly state BPA-free. It is not only much better for our PCOS bodies with our intentions to decrease the BPA in our blood streams and keep our insulin resistance in check, but it is also much better for the environment we live in. Recently, there has been scary information about our prized oysters in the ocean with our high plastic production. It has been shown that microplastics, which enter our oceans through cosmetics, clothing, waste plastics and industrial processes, have been dramatically interfering with oysters’ ability to reproduce. It has been well-documented that due to microplastics, oysters have difficulty producing eggs and sperm, have a lower rate of viable offspring AND they have a very difficult time regulating their food intake, which lead to an increase in the consumption of algae (Duval, 2016). It’s also important to note that they also spent more time growing rather than reproductively developing. It’s pretty interesting that even oysters in our oceans are struggling with their reproduction due to plastics, as well. Paying close attention to plastics and BPA are huge pieces to our PCOS treatment.
Alonso-Magdalena, P, Fuentes, E., Morimoto, S., Nadal, A. & Ripoll, C. (2006). Environmental Health Perspectives: The Estrogenic Effect of Bisphenol-A Disrupts the Pancreatic ß-Cell Function in vivo and Induces Insulin Resistance.
Bittner, G. D., Klein, D. J.,V. C. J., Yang, C. Z. & Yaniger, S. I. (2011). National Center for Biotechnology Information: Most Plastic Products Release Estrogenic Chemicals: A Potential Health Problem That Can Be Solved. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222987/
Chatzigeorgiou A, Diamanti-Kandarakis E, Economou F, Kandaraki E, Koutsilieris M, Livadas S, Palimeri S, Palioura E, & Panidis D. (2011). National Center for Biotechnology Information: Endocrine disruptors and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): elevated serum levels of bisphenol A in women with PCOS. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21193545
Duval, B. D. (2016). Plastics in ocean harm oysters. Retrieved from http://earthsky.org/earth/plastics-in-ocean-harm-oysters