As you know, becoming a mother brings with it the fact of having the new responsibility of a very small being. So it's not enough just to take care of yourself, you also have to take care of this baby that you love more than anything. Caring for someone else requires knowing lots of new things that previously seemed trivial to us.
This article comes from a conversation I was able to have with Bérengère, a gynecology student. She made me realize the importance and impact of endocrine disruptors on our daily lives. This article was largely written thanks to his discerning eye . Thanks to her.
In order to help you preserve baby, we want to make you aware, through this article, of one of the chemical substances that can cause a lot of nasty long-term illnesses, not only to your child, but also to yourself.
Definition and characteristics of endocrine disruptors
What is an endocrine disruptor?
To start, the basic definitions…
Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are chemical substances of natural or artificial origin that are foreign to the body, which therefore go, by many mechanisms, to modify the human endocrine system.
The endocrine system is a set of glands and cells producing hormones whose role is to allow the proper development of the human body and to maintain the balance of its main functions.
These substances can interfere with the functioning of the endocrine system and induce harmful effects on the organism of an individual or on his descendants. ALL endocrine disruptors are dangerous to health because by definition this term describes substances that cause a harmful effect or a pathology for the human body.
Having a small cat and being an animal lover, the first question I asked myself was the following: do endocrine disruptors contaminate only human beings? The answer is no ! According to a study recently published in the medical journal Environmental Science & Technology , they interfere with the hormonal system of dogs and cats, and cause hormonal imbalances in the latter, as in humans. These interferences would therefore affect the reproductive and neurological systems in dogs and cats.
It is therefore important that you be careful not to leave products containing endocrine disruptors (eg parabens) lying around within reach of your pet, especially when you are away. Too much paraben ingestion can lead to kidney disease , thyroid disease and even diabetes in your dog or cat. Vigilance is therefore also required for what your pet could eat.
But where do we find them?
Be careful, the following may scare you. Indeed, endocrine disruptors are found everywhere in everyday life. But from the moment that this contact with these substances is inevitable, we must not fall into paranoia either. It is difficult to eradicate all endocrine disruptors because we simply cannot neutralize the external environment. However, the relationship with endocrine disruptors can be gradually limited by adopting good habits. We will go more in depth into the right attitudes to adopt in the third and last part of this article.
You can therefore find endocrine disruptors in your daily environment, in your home, in your food and even more generally in water, soil, fruits, vegetables, canned food, cleaning and hygiene products, textiles, cosmetics, in plastic but also in rivers and in the sea: marine animals (fish, among others) suffer a lot. The contamination of the sea also causes pollution of seafood, and that is why it is not recommended to eat excessively, just like fish. Food from agriculture contains a lot of it, in particular because of pesticides.
We also find endocrine disruptors in new furniture, in new clothes or even in cosmetics ( deodorants, varnishes, disposable wipes, shaving creams, shower gels, shampoos, hair coloring products , etc. ). They are also found in paint, in mercury, in cooking pots or in food additives. Insofar as even if it is said little, tobacco is a formidable endocrine disruptor . Smokers therefore see their hormones disturbed, which has an impact on puberty, menstruation, contraception and menopause (for women)…
But then, the pill? Does it contain endocrine disruptors?
Contrary to all expectations, the pill is not that bad. According to Robert Barouki, biochemist and toxicologist at Inserm (National Institute for Health and Medical Research), "if we consider endocrine disruptors fairly widely as what disrupts hormones, then yes, we can say that pill works as an endocrine disruptor”. However, he believes that the characteristics of oral contraception do not really correspond to the definition of endocrine disruptors adopted by the European Union. The latter defines endocrine disruptors as something that “presents an adverse effect in an intact organism” and “has an endocrine mode of action, i.e. it alters the function(s) of the endocrine system” .
The list of endocrine disruptors is long, but among them:
- Certain plastics such as bisphenol A contained in packaging and common products such as plastic baby bottles, cans, children's toys, etc.
- Phthalates in cosmetics
- Preservatives such as parabens present in cosmetics and in the food industry
- Industrial waste such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- Cadmium (tobacco); lead (electronic equipment, paints, etc.), arsenic; mercury (furniture, mattresses, electronic products, etc.); teflon (cookware)
- Alkylphenols in paints and detergents
- Certain food additives (BHA and BHT)
- Triclosan (cosmetics and hygiene products)
Some have a proven harmful effect, while others are still being studied.
Risks and harmful effects, especially for pregnancy
During pregnancy, endocrine disruptors are particularly harmful because most cross the placenta, which is a kind of interface between the mother and her baby allowing fetal growth. This is where all the nutrients pass. We can therefore say that it is a real sponge for the baby, who is all the more sensitive to these chemical substances. After crossing the placenta, they alter the vascular system. This can significantly disrupt the development of the baby and cause many problems such as abnormalities of the external genitalia for little boys, neurodevelopmental disorders ( attention disorders, hyperactivity, autism) , growth delays, disorders of the reproduction ( infertility, ovarian failure, recurrent miscarriages, cycle disorders, precocious puberty, endometriosis), but also chronic diseases (diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and cancers.)
It should however be noted that these diseases are not only linked to the presence of endocrine disruptors , and their implications still sometimes remain to be demonstrated, but they contribute to it.
As mentioned above, young children (under the age of 3) are therefore more likely to be impacted by the presence of endocrine disruptors, as they are particularly vulnerable due to their fragility. Major fundamental biological and physiological processes are programmed during this period for all of life.
In October 2018, the French Association for Standardization (AFNOR) created a logo bearing the words “ intended for feeding the very young ”. This means that foods bearing this logo have been prepared specifically for children aged 0-3 years.
This logo helps to guide parents' choices in the diet of their newborns and children from 0 to 3 years old. It is a guarantee of reliability and safety for the food you feed your child.
To have a solid foundation, a baby must grow up in a healthy environment, free of pollution, with a diet adapted to his age and sufficient sleep time.
How to do ?
How to protect yourself from endocrine disruptors?
Favor organic farming, reasoned breeding, without pesticides, without hormones, without additives.
Beware of the consumption of animal fats and seafood (crustaceans for example) which contain many pollutants. For example, eat fish no more than once a week.
Use water filters! Generally speaking, activated carbon filters can remove a wide range of different endocrine disruptors, including steroidal estrogens and many estrogenic substances that can contaminate drinking water, formed when chlorine used to disinfect the water reacts with the natural organic matter present in the water: vegetation, dead leaves, etc.)
Get into the habit of avoiding plastic in the microwave: favor Tupperware and glass baby bottles. In addition, avoid consuming products from cans or plastic.
For your pans, choose ceramic, stainless steel or even better, cast iron.
Teflon, very resistant to heat and very rigid, is unfortunately also extremely toxic from 230°C (emanation of corrosive acids). Know that when you cook, your pan reaches 250°C in a few minutes.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), is used to bond Teflon in pots and pans. Classified as an endocrine disruptor, it migrates into food during cooking. It is responsible for congenital diseases, causes a decline in male fertility and is recognized as a carcinogen.
Take medication only if absolutely necessary. Despite the relief they may provide, they are still chemicals.
Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Indeed, it is a formidable endocrine disruptor. Smokers see their hormones disturbed, which has an impact on puberty, menstruation, or menopause, among others. For example, there is an increase in the number of cases of early menopause in women smokers (between 23 and 30% more). And the greater the smoking, the greater the toxic effect. In addition, tobacco increases the risk of developing breast and cervical cancers. This addiction is also very harmful for pregnant women, of course.
As far as alcohol is concerned, it is "a carcinogen, a poison, an endocrine disruptor and from low consumption, we can have deleterious effects", according to Professor Mickael Naassila, president of the French alcohol society. .
Here are other measures strongly recommended during pregnancy to limit the effects on baby, but not only! These are good habits to adopt even without being pregnant :
- The period of pregnancy can be an opportunity for you to establish a new beauty routine! Also, use cosmetics sparingly.
We avoid: Parabens , Phthalates (very often used in perfumes to fix and prolong their scent), Alkylphenols ( often in body and hair cleansers, shaving foam and styling products), Phenoxyethanol , chemical filters with UV ( benzophenone, oxybenzone, camphor, oxybenzone, methylbenzylidene ), Resorcinol (widely used in hair dyes, even those called "vegetable"), BHA , Triclosan, Silicones , or even Buthylphenyl methylpropional . Unfortunately, this list is not exhaustive because new studies may appear and thus denounce new PEs.
So, avoiding all of these ingredients can be very complicated. The easiest way would be to adopt organic cosmetics of 100% natural origin, and to locate yourself thanks to applications provided for such as “EWG's Sking Deep” or YUKA.
For your baby, choose second-hand clothes. Even if we often want to buy beautiful brand new clothes for our babies, tell yourself that this will have a positive impact not only for his health, but also for the planet!
Indeed, clothing and shoes are not spared PE either. After analyzing a hundred garments, often made in countries with laxer social and environmental standards (China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines), the Greenpeace association revealed that the textile contains substances likely to cause cancer and harm. act as endocrine disruptors. Second-hand clothes will have had more time to eliminate these toxic substances. If you have already bought new clothes, wash them once before putting them on your baby to remove the pesticides used during cotton growing. And this, even if you make your child wear organic cotton because its dye may not be. Also, new toys may also contain toxic fumes. Choose second-hand toys.
If you are moving or want to build a brand new baby room, it is recommended to use second-hand furniture. Otherwise, take the time to air the chipboard furniture 2 or 3 months before installing them in the baby's room, taking care to open the boxes. Once this is done, assemble the furniture and once again ventilate as much as possible. All this before the baby was born. If work needs to be done during your pregnancy, let dad take care of it (if possible) to avoid exposure of the baby in the mother's womb . The paint is for example infested with PE.
- Supplementation with folic acid, iodine, vitamin D and omega 3 recommended two months before conception and to continue during pregnancy
Of course, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor, your gynecologist or your midwife to discuss it, and this, if possible before pregnancy (pre-conception consultation ) in order to have time to take good habits gradually. Because all these good attitudes to adopt cannot be done in one day. A piece of advice to start with: choose an area (for example, cleaning products, cosmetics or food), and when it becomes more or less automatic, gradually expand to others, because it is difficult to upset all our habits . in a snap of the fingers. What is certain is that you will never be able to completely neutralize your environment, but each avoided exposure is beneficial to your body or that of your baby.
If you want to know more about the well-being of your child, do not hesitate to consult our article on the possible risks linked to the different sleeping practices of the child . If you want to learn how to eat better as a family, go here .
And yes, having a child requires learning lots of new things! ♥️ Here is a short video summary of the article.
So now it's up to you!
- Bérengère CHARDON, gynecology student
https://www.europe1.fr/societe/alcool-meme-avec-une-faible-consommation-il-y-a-un-risque-de-developper-certaines- Maladies-3739445#:~:text=% 22Alcohol%20est%20un%20canc%C3%A9rig%C3%A8ne,d%C3%A9l%C3%A9t%C3%A8res%22%2C%20concludes%2Dil .