Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

Eating Out May Disrupt Your Hormones

When you think of things that throw your hormones out of balance, you probably think of stress, or maybe trans fats or alcohol consumption, or perhaps pollution you breathe. You probably don’t think of a visit to a local restaurant, a dinner out at a nearby bistro or an evening at your favorite pub. But, eating out may be wrecking your hormones more than you realize, according to a new study.

The research, published in the medical journal Environment International, found that eating out in restaurants, cafeterias or other food establishments may be exposing people to increased amounts of the hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates.

Phthalates, pronounced THAL-ates are chemicals that are well-established as hormone disruptors that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, cancer (especially breast cancer), infertility (in both men and women) and obesity. They have been linked to increased androgen levels in both males and females.

Androgens are sometimes called “male hormones” even though both men and women have them. In healthy amounts androgens can help regulate sexual development, libido, hair growth or loss, and other characteristics. However, when we are exposed to chemicals like phthalates they can throw our delicate hormonal balance out of whack.

The researchers examined the diets along with urine samples from 10,253 study participants to determine their exposures to phthalates in food they ate at home compared to food they ate out at a range of establishments. They found that eating out significantly increased peoples’ exposure to the toxic compounds. Some foods like sandwiches or cheeseburgers were found to increase phthalate exposures when eaten out but not when they were eaten at home, which could be a reflection of peoples’ tendency to make certain foods from scratch or use more wholesome ingredients compared to many of the packaged, processed foods that are used in restaurants, replete with all the phthalates and other chemicals found in these foods.

In addition to food sources, phthalates are also prevalent as a coating used in pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs, in shower curtains, vinyl flooring, in cosmetics and body care products, hairspray, in baby care products, as an ingredient in insecticides and in most ingredients that contain “fragrance”—perfumes, colognes, air fresheners, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, etc.

Phthalates

 

How Can You Reduce Your Exposure to Hormone-Disrupting Phthalates?

There are many ways you can reduce your exposures to these nasty chemicals. Here are a few to help you reduce your risk:

1)     Avoid fast food establishments as most use packaged and processed foods that contain phthalates.
2)     Eat out less often. It takes only minutes in a day to make a quick salad, sandwich or soup for your workday lunch or dinner from scratch with wholesome, unprocessed ingredients.
3)     If you’re going to eat out, choose places that refrain from using frozen and packaged foods or sauces as most of these items contain phthalates. If in doubt, ask. Even many so-called “high end” or fine-dining establishments use packaged sauces that are best avoided.
4)     Avoid scented personal care products, including: hairspray and other hair care products, skin care products, cosmetics, deodorant, body washes, etc. Choose unscented varieties devoid of fragrance and other toxic chemicals.
5)     Use only unscented laundry detergent available at your local health food store. Avoid using fabric softeners which only add a layer of toxic fragrances and hormone disruptors to your body.
6)     Avoid using vinyl-based products as much as possible. While vinyl plank flooring has become popular, it tends to be high in phthalates, and increase your risk of exposure to the toxins.
7)     Choose natural water-repellent shower curtains instead of vinyl ones since the latter tend to contain phthalates.
8)     Choose wooden windows over vinyl ones.
9)     Use only glass containers for food storage, not plastic.
10)   Avoid products that have the #3 recycling symbol on the packaging, since they contain PVC.

 

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook      April 5, 2018
Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.

Advertisements


2 Comments

Microwaving food in plastic: Dangerous or not?

Let’s cover the original misinformation first: The earliest missives warned that microwaved plastic releases cancer-causing chemicals called dioxins into food. The problem with that warning is that plastics don’t contain dioxins. They are created when garbage, plastics, metals, wood, and other materials are burned. As long as you don’t burn your food in a microwave, you aren’t exposing yourself to dioxins.

Migrating chemicals

There’s no single substance called “plastic.” That term covers many materials made from an array of organic and inorganic compounds. Substances are often added to plastic to help shape or stabilize it. Two of these plasticizers are

  • bisphenol-A (BPA), added to make clear, hard plastic
  • phthalates, added to make plastic soft and flexible

BPA and phthalates are believed to be “endocrine disrupters.” These are substances that mimic human hormones, and not for the good.

When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, BPA and phthalates may leak into the food. Any migration is likely to be greater with fatty foods such as meats and cheeses than with other foods.

The FDA long ago recognized the potential for small amounts of plasticizers to migrate into food. So it closely regulates plastic containers and materials that come into contact with food. The FDA requires manufacturers to test these containers using tests that meet FDA standards and specifications. It then reviews test data before approving a container for microwave use.

Some of these tests measure the migration of chemicals at temperatures that the container or wrap is likely to encounter during ordinary use. For microwave approval, the agency estimates the ratio of plastic surface area to food, how long the container is likely to be in the microwave, how often a person is likely to eat from the container, and how hot the food can be expected to get during microwaving. The scientists also measure the chemicals that leach into food and the extent to which they migrate in different kinds of foods. The maximum allowable amount is 100–1,000 times less per pound of body weight than the amount shown to harm laboratory animals over a lifetime of use. Only containers that pass this test can display a microwave-safe icon, the words “microwave safe,” or words to the effect that they’re approved for use in microwave ovens.

When Good Housekeeping microwaved food in 31 plastic containers, lids, and wraps, it found that almost none of the food contained plastic additives.

What about containers without a microwave-safe label? They aren’t necessarily unsafe; the FDA simply hasn’t determined whether it is or not.

man-microwave-dinner-into-mic

Is Styrofoam microwave safe?

Contrary to popular belief, some Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers can safely be used in the microwave. Just follow the same rule you follow for other plastic containers: Check the label.

The bottom line

Here are some things to keep in mind when using the microwave:

  • If you’re concerned about plastic wraps or containers in the microwave, transfer food to glass or ceramic containers labeled for use in microwave ovens.
  • Don’t let plastic wrap touch food during microwaving because it may melt. Wax paper, kitchen parchment paper, white paper towels, or a domed container that fits over a plate or bowl are better alternatives.
  • Most takeout containers, water bottles, and plastic tubs or jars made to hold margarine, yogurt, whipped topping, and foods such as cream cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard are not microwave-safe.
  • Microwavable takeout dinner trays are formulated for one-time use only and will say so on the package.
  • Old, scratched, or cracked containers, or those that have been microwaved many times, may leach out more plasticizers.
  • Don’t microwave plastic storage bags or plastic bags from the grocery store.
  • Before microwaving food, be sure to vent the container: leave the lid ajar, or lift the edge of the cover.

 Read more about the BPA controversy and get tips to decrease your exposure.

 Updated: October 27, 2015   Originally published: February 2006


3 Comments

Experts Link Chemicals to Diabetes, Obesity

Sept. 28, 2015 – People who are trying to lose weight or manage diabetes should try to change their lifestyle not only to exercise or cut calories, but also to avoid chemicals that may be contributing to their condition, experts say.

“You may have a healthy meal, but if it’s in a plastic container, it’s leaching chemicals,” said Andrea Gore, PhD, a pharmacologist at the University of Texas at Austin in a webinar for reporters on Monday.

Gore is the chair of a task force that issued on Monday a new statement on the harm from hormone-disrupting chemicals. The statement, which is based on a review of more than 1,300 studies, says there’s convincing evidence to support a link between hundreds of hormone disruptors and several chronic health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Infertility
  • Hormone-sensitive cancers in women (breast, endometrial, ovarian)
  • Prostate cancer
  • Thyroid problems
  • Poor brain development and brain function in young children

Researchers say the statement is significant because it comes from a group of doctors that treat people for hormone problems instead of scientists who study the effects of chemicals in animals or on cells.

Gore said the evidence for these effects is now strong enough that everyone should take steps to avoid chemicals that block or mimic the action of hormones in the body.

She also called on doctors who are treating patients for infertility to tell their patients to avoid hormone disruptors, which are known to decrease semen quality and interfere with how ovaries work. She said doctors who are counseling pregnant women and the parents of young children should also warn about chemical exposures.

“In particular, we’re worried about fetuses, infants, children, etc.,” she said, because exposure to the chemicals during development could set the stage for disease down the road.

Avoiding these kinds of chemicals is easier said than done, however, since no one knows how many of them exist or exactly how they’re being used. That’s because chemicals aren’t tested for safety before they used in products that are sold to consumers.

There are about 85,000 chemicals known to be used in the U.S. No one knows how many might disrupt hormones.

“Not all of them are EDCs [endocrine-disrupting chemicals], but if even 1% of them were EDCs, that would be 850 chemicals,” Gore said.

Some of the best-known hormone-disrupting chemicals include:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S, which are used in some plastics, metal food cans, and cash register receipts
  • Phthalates, a class of chemicals that are used to soften plastic and also used in some perfumes, soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics
  • Some pesticides, like DDT
  • Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical

receipt

“They act at very low doses,” she said.

The statement calls for better safety testing to determine which chemicals could pose problems, tighter regulation, and more research on the health effects.

Environmental health experts cheered the new statement.

“I’m thrilled,” said Richard Stahlhut, MD, a visiting research scientist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“The endocrinologists had to be the first ones on board, and fortunately, they are,” he said. “If they’re not on board, then maybe people like me are crazy,” said Stahlhut, who studies the hormone-disrupting effects of chemicals like BPA.

Chemical manufacturers said the statement went too far.

“The statement incorrectly characterizes as settled the still-unproven hypothesis regarding risks of low levels of exposure to particular chemicals. In doing so, the [Endocrine] Society discounts the extensive reviews by experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority that were unable to substantiate the health significance of the so called low-dose effects,” said the American Chemistry Council in a statement.

“Furthermore, the Endocrine Society’s report fails to differentiate between chemicals that are ‘endocrine-active,’ meaning they interact with the endocrine system, and those that are ‘endocrine disruptors,’ meaning that the levels of exposure associated with that interaction cause scientifically-proven adverse health effects,” the statement said.

Some retailers and manufacturers aren’t waiting for the dust to settle on the chemical debate.

On Monday, Bloomberg News reported that Target is expanding the list of chemicals it would ask suppliers to take out of their products. The expanded list will included nearly 600 chemicals on Health Canada’s roster of prohibited cosmetic ingredients. It will include triclosan, which is found in antibacterial soaps and some toothpastes.

Walmart also has a list of substances it asks retailers to avoid, though it doesn’t post the list publicly, Bloomberg reported.

Until more is known, Gore said consumers could reduce their exposure to known endocrine disruptors by avoiding bottled water in plastic bottles and being careful not to heat or microwave food in plastic containers.

Stahlhut said people who are concerned about chemical exposure should try to do the best they can, but because it’s impossible to avoid all potential exposures, to “Try to be Zen about it. Don’t drive yourself crazy.”

He said he tries to eat and drink out of stainless steel or glass containers instead of plastic. He especially tries to avoid heating food in plastic. He said he tries to avoid chemicals in the nonstick coatings by cooking in cast-iron pans. And he steers clear of soaps and toothpaste with triclosan.

“Make the easy choices when you can. Make the harder choices when you can afford it,” he said.

By Brenda Goodman, MA        WebMD Health News      Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES:
Andrea C. Gore, PhD, professor and Vacek Chair of Pharmacology, University of Texas at Austin; chair, Endocrine Society Statement on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Austin, TX.
Richard Stahlhut, MD, visiting research scientist, University of Missouri-Columbia.
The Endocrine Society, Scientific Statement, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Sept. 28, 2015.
The American Chemistry Council.
Bloomberg News.

source:  WebMD


Leave a comment

8 Household Items Newly Found to Lower Children’s IQ Significantly

Chemicals that may cause a drop in children’s IQ are in products all around our houses.

Children exposed prenatally to high levels of phthalates — commonly used in plastics and scented products — have IQ levels seven points lower than those exposed to low levels, a new study finds.

The study is the first to find a connection between phthalate exposure during pregnancy and reduced IQ in children.

The 328 women and their children in the study were from low-income communities in New York City.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health measured levels of four common phthalates, including di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), during pregnancy (Factor-Litvak et al., 2014).

The children were given an IQ test at 7-years-old.

The results, published in the journal PLoS ONE, showed that children who were in the top 25% for exposure to two particular phthalates (DnBP and DiBP) had IQs around 7 points lower than those who were in the bottom 25% for exposure.

Professor Robin Whyatt, one of the study’s senior authors, said:

“The magnitude of these IQ differences is troubling.
A six- or seven-point decline in IQ may have substantial consequences for academic achievement and occupational potential.”

The researchers controlled statistically for other factors that influence children’s IQ, such as maternal IQ and education as well as the home environment.

hazardous

Avoiding phthalates

While it is impossible to avoid phthalates completely, they are found in these common products, amongst others:

  • Hairspray.
  • Plastic containers used for microwaving food.
  • Lipstick.
  • Air fresheners.
  • Dryer sheets.
  • Nail polish.
  • Some soaps.
  • Recycled plastics labelled 3,6 or 7.

Dr. Pam Factor-Litvak, who led the study, said:

“Pregnant women across the United States are exposed to phthalates almost daily, many at levels similar to those that we found were associated with substantial reductions in the IQ of children.
While there has been some regulation to ban phthalates from toys of young children, there is no legislation governing exposure during pregnancy, which is likely the most sensitive period for brain development.
Indeed, phthalates are not required to be on product labeling.”

source: PsyBlog