Why Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals may contribute to menopausal symptoms

Why Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals may contribute to menopausal symptoms – and how to minimise your exposure.

We are awash with man-made chemicals. Some of these chemicals are known to act as endocrine disruptors- negatively influencing the body’s own hormonal response, especially with oestrogen.

Since the post-war period in the 1950s, the UK has seen a significant increase in the use of man-made chemicals in textiles, household goods, furniture, in the water and in the air. They are found in particularly high amounts in the agricultural sector in pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

Lack of Rigorous Testing

Why Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals may contribute to menopausal symptoms

Testing is not always rigorous (according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, less than 1% have been rigorously tested for safety). And importantly testing does not consider the long-term impact of cumulative exposure to so many chemicals on the human body. 

The UK government opened another consultation in March 2021 to further restrict the use of “persistent organic pollutants” but the timescales for this to happen- if it does go ahead- is likely to be too slow and too negligible to make a real impact on human health. 

It’s time to take to action into your own hands.

What are Endocrine Disruptors

Why Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals may contribute to menopausal symptoms

These are a group of chemicals known as Xenoestrogens that mimic oestrogen – but in a negative way. They exert a strong effect on the oestrogen cell receptors in the body and are thought to contribute to cancers like breast and prostate. 

They are extremely difficult to break down and once in the body can be absorbed into cells and are hard to remove. 

What are some common endocrine disruptors to look out for?

Why Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals may contribute to menopausal symptoms

Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in many plastic products including food storage containers, cling film and in the lining of tin cans. It leaches into food and drink, especially if the plastic is warm.

Phthalates are a particularly nasty group of chemicals commonly found in toiletries, cosmetics and household cleaning products. They can also be found in some food packaging and children’s toys. 

PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) commonly found in non-stick pans and textile coatings.

Pesticides In 2019 the charity Friends of the Earth reported the increasing use of pesticides in the UK. There has been a 24% increase in pesticide use since 2000 with a growing list of chemicals. 

PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) used in the industrial industry but leach into our water supplies.

How you can minimise your exposure to Endocrine Disruptors

Why Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals may contribute to menopausal symptoms

Avoid plastic bottles and if you do use one never leave plastic exposed to heat as the BPA content leaches into the water. Carry water in a stainless-steel bottle. Minimise your use of plastic storage containers and even if they are “microwave friendly” do not reheat food in them. Avoid plastic food wrap.

Be careful with tin cans as some are lined with a BPA lining especially for acidic foods like tomatoes. 

Choose natural toiletries and always choose ones with zero phthalates. Chemicals will be absorbed directly through the skin into the bloodstream. For this reason, I use organic skincare including shower gels and handwash and have done for over 10 years.

Begin to change out your cookware for non “non-stick” types and replace with ceramic, cast iron or stainless-steel ones. Replace the oldest, most scratched ones as the exposure to chemicals may be greater.

Start to invest in organic foods. You can choose organic more economically by looking at the most up to date “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” information either on the www.ewg.org or 

Pesticide Action Network UK, which you can find here:

Try to buy organic meat and dairy. Avoid farmed salmon (I choose Wild Alaskan salmon) as it is high in PCBs, and only eat tuna very occasionally due to its high levels of mercury.

Always filter your tap water. Buy the best available water filter available and carefully check what chemicals it filters out.  

Choose natural wax (not petroleum candles) with natural essential oils. Avoid chemical air fresheners.

And you can also consider choosing natural cleaning household products and laundry products like Method.

Making a Plan of Action

Why Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals may contribute to menopausal symptoms

It’s really important to look at all aspects of your chemical exposure:

  • Where is your exposure greatest?
  • What can you start to do today to reduce it down?

Start with the quickest and simplest actions you can take and build from there. Not only can it make a difference to your experience through the menopause but to all women- and men- at every age.

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Again, thanks for reading. 

Keep your eye out for more articles and Peyton Principles in the media.


Gut Health Nutritionist Caroline Peyton Principles
Caroline is a Professional Nutritionist, Naturopath based in Wiltshire.

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