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18 Everyday Products That Contain Toxic Xenoestrogens

While the term “xenoestrogens” may sound unfamiliar to you, believe it or not, these chemicals are everywhere in our daily lives. Hidden within many products we use regularly, from plastic water bottles to the creams we apply on our skin, xenoestrogens are synthetic compounds that mimic estrogen, messing with our body’s natural hormone balance. 

According to a study from the National Library of Medicine, xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens in our environment might play a role in various cancers by messing with cell communication through estrogen signaling pathways.  It highlights why it’s more important than ever to spread the word about how common xenoestrogens are and the possible risks they carry.

So, to help you make safer choices, here is a list of 18 everyday items containing xenoestrogens, many of which we use without a second thought.

1. Plastics

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Plastics are pretty much everywhere in our lives. Right? From water to vegetables, everything is packed in plastic containers. These plastic containers often contain xenoestrogens such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. These xenoestrogens sneak into our food and drinks when we heat them in plastic containers. When we ingest this heated food, these harmful chemicals can enter our bloodstream and disrupt our hormonal balance. 

BPA and other xenoestrogens are harmful to our waistlines and reproductive systems. Studies have found that the reproductive system is an easy target for BPA; it disturbs the sex hormone activity and exertion.

Using glassware when heating food in the microwave is a great start. Also, always look for BPA plastics and reduce your use of wasteful plastic single-use bottles where possible, particularly water bottles.

2. Insecticides

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Chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, commonly used in farming to manage pests and weeds, may also contain harmful xenoestrogens. Even after washing vegetables and fruits well, these chemicals can linger, entering our bodies when we eat them.

Evidence shows that these xenoestrogens OCPs not only raise the risk of cancers but also other health problems in humans. Even though we know they’re bad for us, some countries still use these chemicals.  Over the years, breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men have become some of the leading causes of sickness and mortality, and both are cancers affected by estrogen.

Buying organic or growing your own produce when possible can help combat this.

3. Sanitary Products

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Sanitary products like pads and tampons contain xenoestrogens like dioxins, which are tied to problems with fertility and the immune system. According to a recent study, the overall composition of sanitary napkins includes chemicals like styrene, phthalates, dioxins, and others known to cause cancer. 

They disrupt the body’s natural feedback system, timing, and communication between cells and organs. Even a minor problem caused by these chemicals can lead to significant issues with reproduction and pregnancy.

Since sanitary napkins are in direct contact with women’s delicate genital skin, there’s a higher risk of harmful chemicals entering their bodies. These chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and affect mucous membranes, a thin layer of tissues that protects the body from infections. 

Dioxins weaken the ability of mucous membranes to produce protective mucus, making our bodies more vulnerable to infections and irritations. They have also been linked to inflammation and immune system dysfunction, which worsens the condition of mucus membranes and increases the risk of other diseases.

Look for chemical-free, bleach-free products or try alternatives like a menstrual cup.

4. Unfiltered Tap Water

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Tap water may contain xenoestrogens due to various reasons. A 2023 study found that the primary source of xenoestrogen in tap water is the residue of pesticides that leeches into the tap water and rivers through runoff. The study further found Xenoestrogens in all water and vegetable samples, including tap water.

However, the estrogenic activity they cause is low, so it’s not a big problem for our health immediately. But they can build up in our bodies and might even become harmful if activated by biotransformation. So, it’s essential to try to reduce the levels of these chemicals in our water. Other sources of xenoestrogen in tap water could be the chemical waste that industries dump in water, which contains harmful BPA and phthalates. Additionally, chemicals used in water treatment, such as disinfectants and chlorine-based compounds, can contribute to the presence of xenoestrogens in tap water.  

While these chemicals are essential to make the water safe to drink and use by killing harmful bacteria and viruses, they can react with organic matter in water to form byproducts, some of which may exhibit estrogenic activity. Having a water filter system in place can help combat this.

5. Cosmetics

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Makeup and skincare products contain xenoestrogens in the form of preservatives, fragrances, and other additives. When we apply foundation, concealer, or compact powder, we let these toxic chemicals enter our bodies.

When we use skincare products that have xenoestrogens in them, it can make the levels of hormones in our bodies go up. This might raise the chance of getting certain cancers, like breast cancer. The xenoestrogens in cosmetics absorb more quickly on our face than the ones we consume and reach the bloodstream without giving the liver a chance to filter them out.

So, it’s essential to avoid products containing xenoestrogens and replace them with xenoestrogen-free skin care. 

6. Fruits and Vegetables

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As mentioned earlier, fruits and vegetables contain xenoestrogen due to pesticides. While rinsing fruits and veggies helps a bit, it doesn’t eliminate all those pesky pesticide residues that stick to the skin or get inside the produce. 

Peeling might be a better way to reduce xenoestrogens since many stick to the surface. But you lose some excellent nutrients along with the skin. That’s why opting for organic produce when you can makes a lot of sense. It’s the best way to avoid pesticides and keep the good stuff in your food.

7. Fragrances

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According to research, even though the makers of perfumes test each ingredient to ensure it’s safe for people to use when all these ingredients are mixed, some can mess with our hormones, especially estrogen. So, even though each ingredient might be safe individually, when combined in a perfume they can still affect our hormones and cause issues.

Fragrances often contain synthetic chemicals and natural compounds to create a desired scent but have side effects. Scented products contain chemicals like phthalates, aldehydes, parabens, and aluminum-based salts that cause side effects such as allergies, breast cancer, reproductive disorders (especially in males), skin allergies, nervous system damage, and migraine headaches for consumers.

Avoiding these artificial scents is problematic because most personal care items and household cleaning products have them. But not impossible!

8. Till Receipts

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The shiny coating on till receipts leaves a bit of BPA every time you hold them. You know that the skin’s soaking power is almost as great as when we eat them, especially if our hands are wet or oily.

In the USA, BPA receipts have been almost entirely replaced by bisphenol S (BPS), which is supposed to be a harmless alternative to BPA. However, both are endocrine-disrupting chemicals and can cause health issues, including cancer.

The bottom line is to toss or store those receipts as soon as possible, and don’t let your kids get ahold of them!

9. Composite Fillings

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Composite dental fillings used to repair cavities are made of BPA plastics and resins that risk being released from the fillings over time and entering the body through saliva and dental tissues.

A study shows that BPA was found in serum and saliva from composite resins. However, the amount of BPA released was too low to cause harm and did not alter hormonal balance. The long-term effects are unknown. Talk to our dentist about potential holistic alternatives.

10. Non-stick Cookware

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While non-stick cookware has made our lives easier, some are unsafe for our health. Non-stick pots and pans have a Teflon coating made from chemicals with long names, such as poly- and perfluorinated chemicals (PFOA).

When you cook with these pans at really high temperatures (over 300 degrees Celsius), the Teflon coating can start to break down, releasing harmful chemicals into the air and your food. The good news is that Teflon products are PFOA-free now, so there’s no need to worry about the health effects of PFOA exposure.

However, until 2013, PFOA was used to make Teflon. Even though most PFOA typically burned off during high-temperature manufacturing, a small amount remained in the final product. PFOA has been associated with various health conditions, including thyroid issues, kidney and liver diseases, cancer, infertility, and low birth weight.

Considering these health concerns, toss your old pans and pots and ideally go for stainless steel or cast iron, which are non-toxic choices that will last you ages in the kitchen.

11. Air Fresheners

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Your home might smell nice and fresh, but there’s a high chance you’re inhaling xenoestrogens present in synthetic fragrances. “Fragrance” is an extensive cover for many mixed chemicals. 

They’re often used in products to hide the smell of other less-than-nice chemicals. When sprayed, this harmful chemical can be inhaled and enter the body. The worst part is that not all of the ingredients in that fragrance are listed on the label, so it’s hard to know exactly what’s inside. However, some products might be labeled “natural,” but don’t get fooled by them because there are no regulations to test them. 

You should do in-depth research and switch to oil-based air and fragrance-free fresheners to reduce exposure to xenoestrogens.

12. Birth Control Pills

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Many people see the birth control pill as one of the most important medical discoveries of the twentieth century. In the United States, about 1 in 4 women between 15 and 44 years old who use birth control are taking the pill. 

However, many of these women may not know how much the pill can mess up their hormone levels, which could also affect their brain functions and mental health. These pills contain fake hormones that can disturb our natural hormone balance, acting like xenoestrogens in our bodies. This can affect our natural cycle and make it harder to understand what’s happening in our bodies each month. 

Besides, the pill also takes away many essential nutrients from our bodies, leading to other health problems like too much estrogen, yeast infections, and not having enough nutrients (due to poor absorption).

13. Cleaning Products

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All-purpose cleaners are fantastic for cleaning your house. Still, they can be dangerous to your skin and lungs because they usually have chemicals like ammonia, ethylene glycol, monobutyl acetate, and sodium hypochlorite. 

These chemicals can cause problems like skin rashes or even damage to your brain and kidneys. Even products labeled as ‘green’ and’ natural’ might contain chemicals that are harmful to your health. Do your best to find products made with natural ingredients or make your own blend with vinegar, essential oils, and/or lemon.

14. Canned Food 

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The linings of many canned food containers contain bisphenol compounds, such as BPA, which can act as xenoestrogens. When canned foods are stored for long periods (once opened) or heated, the chemicals can leach into the food and enter the body upon ingestion. 

A study examined BPA levels in different kinds of food—fresh, frozen, and canned. They did this in two parts. First, they checked how much BPA was in canned foods. 

Then, they figured out how much BPA people were eating from their diet. They found that foods not in cans had less BPA (7%) compared to canned foods (73%). They further found that the primary source of BPA that adults are eating is BPA coatings inside the cans. You can look for a BPA-free label for your canned goods.

15. Candles

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If you enjoy setting the ambiance with candles, you might be surprised that some candles have chemicals that can interfere with your hormones, like fragrances and air fresheners. For instance, parabens, used as preservatives in candles, can act like xenoestrogens, throwing off your hormone balance and potentially increasing the risk of certain cancers, like breast cancer.

Additionally, synthetic fragrances often found in candles disrupt hormone levels and are linked to allergies, asthma, and respiratory issues. 

To make matters worse, candles may contain phthalates, chemicals added to extend fragrance longevity. Phthalates can mess with hormone production and regulation, leading to various health issues. Try buying a homemade or make your own candles with beeswax and essential oils!

16. Hair Dyes

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Who doesn’t love to experiment with their hair in different colors? But guess what? Hair dyes are not so safe for your health. Many hair dyes contain chemicals such as aromatic amines and phenols, which can act as xenoestrogens in the body. When applied to the scalp, these chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream, affecting endogenous sex hormone levels and can cause allergies and asthma.

Hair dyeing increases the risk of infantile abnormal birth weight, especially if the mom’s periods are irregular or she dyed her hair before getting pregnant. And if both of these things happen, the risk gets even higher.

The study further found that using hair dyes, personally or occupationally, can still lead to different problems and side effects. One of the most common issues is allergic contact dermatitis, but there are also more severe problems like collapsed lungs, muscle breakdown, and kidney damage. Even though studies over the years haven’t always shown a clear link between using hair dye and getting cancer, we can’t ignore that some groups of people might have a higher risk.

17. Hormone contraceptives

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When we use hormonal contraceptives such as patches, pills (as mentioned above), and injections, the xenoestrogens in them can disrupt our body’s natural hormone balance. This disruption can lead to various health issues because hormones control many body processes, like growth, reproduction, and metabolism. 

For example, an imbalance in estrogen levels caused by these contraceptives can increase the risk of certain cancers, like breast cancer. Additionally, these synthetic hormones may interfere with the normal functioning of our reproductive system, leading to irregular menstrual cycles or fertility problems. Talk to your doctor about hormone-free ways to prevent pregnancy.

18. Flame Retardants

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Flame retardants can be found in various household and commercial products like phones, clothes, furniture, and even toys to reduce the fire risk in these products.

But these flame retardants often contain chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which can act as xenoestrogens in our bodies and can leach out of the furniture over time and enter our bodies through dust or direct contact. 

A study found that exposure to certain endocrine disruptive chemicals (EDCs) alters thyroid function and increases the risk of numerous adverse health outcomes, including developmental abnormalities,  thyroid disorders, and various types of cancers. 

It means that being around certain types of flame retardants, PCBs, phthalates, and some pesticides might be linked to a higher chance of getting thyroid cancer. Take this into consideration when purchasing clothing, furniture, and toys.

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