Our bodies are continually exposed to chemicals that are harmful to our health, yet our government is slow in response to protecting us. We witnessed the same lagging response from the tobacco industry decades ago, by resisting regulations and attempting to minimize scientific findings, which ultimately caused adverse health effect on millions of people worldwide. Now, we see the same trend with our chemical industry.
The main focus of the gynecology federation is how these chemicals act as endocrine disruptors by acting like sex hormones, ultimately confusing the body. These endocrine disruptors can be found in plastics, shampoos, and cosmetics, paper receipts, the linings of canned goods, pesticides, and flame-retardant furniture.
The largest group at risk are pregnant or lactating women. Excessive exposure to these chemicals can cause birth defects in an unborn fetus, including hypospadias, which causes the urethra of a baby boy not to develop correctly. Medical professionals are also finding an increasing amount of women who have developed breast cancer. The physicians treating these cases believe there is a significant link between endocrine disruptors and these health effects.
The Endocrine Society, which is a group of worldwide physicians and scientists who work with the hormone system, has also issued a warning against these harmful endocrine disruptors found in many of our everyday products. The Endocrine Society has tied endocrine disruptors to causing prostate cancer, infertility, testicular cancer, undescended testicles, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and uterine cancer. Even neurological issues have been linked to exposure to these endocrine disruptors. Adults most often are the ones who develop these issues and researchers believe it is because of early exposure to these chemicals. In other words, unborn babies are most at risk.
The common myth among consumers is that if a product is available on the shelf, all of its contents must have been deemed safe by the government. While the government does ensure a product’s safety before it launches to the public, the long-term health effects of many products have simply not been studied. Researchers have proven time and time again that animal studies and Vitro tests prove adverse health effects from exposure to these chemicals, yet the chemical industry does not support the claim that humans are also at risk.
Europe is beginning to take a stand in efforts of protecting their citizens, by testing products before they hit the market. Sadly, the United States (U.S.) is lagging behind in this effort. The U.S. Senate is considering proposed legislation that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to test 25 chemicals within the first five years, but that does not consider the long-term effects.
While we wait for our government to take greater strides in this arena, consumers can take the situation into their own hands by making safer choices. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and children, should strive to eat organic foods whenever possible, reduce their use of plastics, avoid paper receipts and furniture coated in flame-retardant as much as possible. For more information on reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals, please visit the consumer guides at ewe.org.