The vast majority of us are constantly being exposed to toxic chemicals of one form or another – and not just from obvious culprits like car exhaust, cigarette smoke, and pick your favorite industrial pollutant. Household items and products, including some common foods and even tap water, harbor hazardous levels of toxins that have very real health effects over time. And experts are increasingly worried about one health issue in particular: endocrine disruption.
Early studies have linked a whole host of common chemicals, including bisphenol-A (commonly called BPA), phthalates, and flame retardants, to possible endocrine system damage. What is particularly insidious about these toxins is that they mess with the body's natural hormone production, which can lead to a host of varied complications affecting everything from the thyroid to testosterone to sperm count.
To combat the problem, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released its Dirty Dozen List of Endocrine Disruptors, outlining 12 of the worst offending chemicals. Odds are high that many of these toxins are lurking in your house and office now. Here's where you'll find them and how to limit your exposure.
Steak and ice cream
Besides their many other unhealthy qualities, red meat, ice cream, and other high-fat, animal-based foods harbor dioxins. According to Solomon, these chemicals are toxic to the reproductive system, hamper immunity, and are carcinogenic. "Dioxins are unwanted byproducts of combustion and of some industrial processes," she says. "Although regulatory efforts have significantly reduced dioxin pollution in the U.S. over the past few decades, these chemicals are global pollutants – they can travel around the world on air currents." Because they accumulate and persist in fat, eating other animals that have been exposed means concentrating levels in ourselves. The only way to cut back is by drastically cutting back on the intake of fatty meat and high-fat foods like cheese and ice cream.
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