Recently, I have been waging a war on the use of plastics in my kitchen and everyday life. This is not an easy process. Plastic is an everyday multi-purpose item and its convenience cannot be denied/ Despite this, in all plastic lurk many toxins that threaten our health. Plastics are widely known as endocrine disrupting agents – in other words, they wreak havoc with how our endocrine system processes hormones. This may lead to hormonal imbalance.
Plastics – especially BPA and phthalates – are loaded with xeno-estrogens, which are naturally or chemically produced substances that imitate estrogen. Xeno-estrogens attach to estrogen receptors in our bodies and interfere with natural circulating estrogens. This hi-jacking of the body’s biochemical pathways causes hormonal imbalance, the results of which are manifold. Hormonal imbalance may result in uterine cysts & fibroids; endometriosis; infertility; prostate abnormalities; damaged ova and sperm; gynecomastia (breast development in men), among others. Many xeno-estrogens activate the CYP-lBl enzyme, which convert naturally occurring estrogens to 4-catechol, a toxic form of estrogen that can damage DNA and increase the risk of developing cancer, especially of the breast.
Unfortunately, plastic products are not biodegradable and remain in our environment for long periods of time. Over time, bio-accumulation occurs as smaller organisms in contact with xeno-estrogens are consumed by larger animals and humans. Animals have been suffering reproductive problems for years, and problems are the worst in areas where pollution is the highest. One example of this is sterility in the Florida panther, which has been linked to predation on animals exposed to pesticides.
In addition to plastics, pesticides and herbicides are another huge source of xenoestrogens in our environment. Although DDT was banned for use in the US in the early 1970s, it continues to be manufactured in the USA and marketed abroad, where it is sprayed on products and then sold in U.S. stores.
The metabolism of estrogens is dependent on how healthy and functional our detoxification system is – in essence, how healthy our lymph, liver and kidneys are. The degradation of estrogen is in constant competition with the elimination of drugs and other toxins from our bodies. This is yet another reason why limiting our exposure to chemicals and toxins is so vital to our reproductive health.