Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: The Bad Guys Disrupting Your Hormones

Enlightenment Is Not Always Fun
We learned something new this week and we want to share, but be prepared, it’s not pretty. Today we’ll be talking about Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs).

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical (EDC) - an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub) populations1

In normal-people words, EDCs make your hormones wacko and can interfere with healthy hormonal processes including reproduction, growth, sexual development, blood sugar regulation, and more. 2 Yikes!
If you’re like us, you probably want to know where these EDCs are and how to stay away from them. Unfortunately, completely keeping clear of them is pretty much impossible.
We are exposed daily through contaminated water, air, food, and soil. 3 With EDCs popping up at every turn it’s no wonder so many of us deal with conditions that have been linked to them, including women’s reproductive disorders such as PCOS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and more. 4 And the gentlemen don’t get a free pass either, EDCs have been linked to poor sperm quality, male infertility, and male urogenital structural abnormalities.3

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Yeah, But I Don’t Want Kids, So Who Cares?

If you don’t want kids, you may be thinking, “My private parts look fine, work well, and I’m not planning to make a baby so, so what?” 

Slow your roll there my friend because EDCs are also linked to thyroid problems as well as many types of cancers, and nobody is OK with that. 5 Gah! What can we do?!

Learn to Recognize Them

The first step in avoidance is recognition, right? I mean, it’s pretty hard to avoid something if you don’t know what it looks like. Let’s go over some of the most common and pervasive EDCs. We’ll identify several different types and then tell you what products they’re typically found in:

  • Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) are commonly used in sofas, mattresses, clothing, and electronics because they help keep things from catching fire. While this is good fire safety, it’s not good hormone safety.5
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) were officially banned by the EPA in 1979, but products containing them are still widely found in homes predating the ban. PCBs can be found in products ranging from insulation, to caulking, to paints, and more.5
  • Phthalates are chemicals found in many kinds of plasticware for the kitchen, including cups, plastic wraps, and water bottles. These chemicals can have detrimental effects on thyroid health and male reproductive health, so many companies have voluntarily stopped using them. The most common types are: BBP, DBP, DEHP, DEP, DiDP, DiNP, DnHP, and DnOP. All of these compounds have been banned both in the United States and in the European Union, however many products, especially children’s products, still contain them if they predate the ban and/or come from a country that has not banned them.5 AND, there are many phthalates that were not banned by the FDA and can still be found in products for sale in the USA. Plastics that contain phthalates can be identified by the number “3” and the letter “V” or by the letters “PVC” in or near the recycling symbol.5
  • Bisphenol A (BPA) is one EDC we’ve probably all heard of. It’s linked to reduced egg viability in humans and has been banned from children’s products. However, it’s still used in food containers such as plastic water bottles and food cans.1 


PSA on “BPA-Free”
In more bad news, BPAs cousins, which haven’t gotten as much bad press, are increasingly being substituted for BPA ... and they’re typically just as bad if not worse for our health. 
With this in mind, “BPA-Free” doesn’t really mean much.  6
BPA and its closest family members  6
  • Pesticides and Herbicides are both common sources of EDCs and can accumulate in food, water, air, and soil.5
  • Per- & Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) are water and oil repellents. PFAs are chemicals that can resist grease, water, oil, and heat. This type of EDC is commonly used in stain- and water-resistance fabrics, cleaning products, paints, and carpets.7

That’s So Many Things!

We warned you. They’re practically impossible to escape. 

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Fight the Good Fight

Unfortunately, nowhere is completely safe from EDCs, not even the most remote places on earth are untouched by them now.5 However, finding ways to reduce your exposure is not impossible; just remember that reduction is the goal, not elimination. Elimination simply isn’t possible for most people. 

  • Gain more control over your home environment. Go through your home and identify sources of EDCs such as cookware, cleaning products, gardening products, toys, etc., and then remove them from your home as able. 3 Once you’ve done that, do some research on products before you bring them into your home. Find out what your EDC exposure will be from potential new toys, cookware, cleaning chemicals, personal care products, etc. You can then make informed decisions about whether you want them in your home.
  • Eat less plastic. While the debate on HOW MUCH plastic we consume is ongoing, there is no debate about whether or not we consume it…it’s in our blood now. 8 Plastics are rife with toxic chemicals, especially EDCs, so reducing plastic consumption is a key way to reduce your EDC exposure.

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Experts recommend changing the way we eat. They have advised us to avoid plastic containers/packaging and canned goods (cans are lined with plastic), and they also recommend reducing the amount of fast food and processed food we eat. Furthermore, researchers also recommend increasing the amount of fresh, organic food we eat, as a way to offset our plastic intake, and also nourish our EDC-bombarded bodies. 9 

  • Sweat it out. Exercise and saunas are both wonderful ways to help the body detox. Many of our environment's most damaging toxins can be excreted in our sweat. We can sweat out heavy metals, pesticides, petrochemicals, and more. 10 Sweat often to help your body stay clean on the inside!

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Processing it All

We know this may have been very stressful to learn about, but try not to worry or freak out.

Yes, we live in a toxic cesspool of chemicals that’s gotten completely out of control, but obsessing over it won’t help your health. 

Use your energy to make smart choices about factors you CAN control and let the rest be what it is. We can still live happy, wholesome lives, even knowing the ugly truth about EDCs. 


In parting, remember that eating healthy, whole foods, and lots of plants foods, is one of the simplest, safest, and most effective things we can do to promote good health in our bodies. As with every preventative/restorative measure though, sometimes these changes alone are not enough to help our bodies function the way we want or need them to. If you are struggling with health problems, please contact your doctor or other healthcare provider such a Naturopathic Doctor, Dietitian, or Mental Health Professional to see if they can offer appropriate guidance and care. We at Wholesome Story believe that healthy communities require community effort, so we advise you to keep your healthcare community aware and involved in your journey as you pursue better health.


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    1. UNEP. What are Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)? UN Environment Programme. Accessed March 18, 2024. https://www.unep.org/topics/chemicals-and-pollution-action/pollution-and-health/endocrine-disrupting-chemicals
    2. Diamanti-Kandarakis E, Bourguignon JP, Giudice LC, et al. Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. Endocrine Reviews. 2009;30(4):293-342.
    3. Endocrine Disruptors - Common Chemicals That Severely Alter Your Hormones - Dr. Shanna Swan. www.youtube.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLxFazLK2Mg
    4. Hassan S, Thacharodi A, Priya A, et al. Endocrine disruptors: Unravelling the link between chemical exposure and Women’s reproductive health. Environmental Research. 2024;241:117385. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2023.117385
    5. Endocrine Society. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Endocrine Society. https://www.endocrine.org/advancing-research/scientific-statements/edc. Published August 26, 2021. Accessed February 10, 2022.
    6. Science Direct. Unveiling the next generation of bisphenol analogs and their impact on human health using in vitro methods. Science Direct. Published October 2023. Accessed March 18, 2024. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S240566502300094X#:~:text=Many%20studies%20found%20that%20bisphenol,abiotic%20environment%20and%20human%20urine.
    7. Nutrition C for FS and A. Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). FDA. Published online May 24, 2023. https://www.fda.gov/food/environmental-contaminants-food/and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas#:~:text=Per%2D%20and%20polyfluoroalkyl%20substances%20(PFAS)%20are%20chemicals%20that%20resist
    8. Leslie HA, J. M. van Velzen M, Brandsma SH, Vethaak D, Garcia-Vallejo JJ, Lamoree MH. Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood. Environment International. 2022;163(107199):107199. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2022.107199
    9. Corbett GA, Lee S, Woodruff TJ, et al. Nutritional interventions to ameliorate the effect of endocrine disruptors on human reproductive health: A semi‐structured review from FIGO. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics. Published online February 23, 2022. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/ijgo.14126
    10. Hussain J, Cohen M. Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2018;2018:1-30. doi:https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1857413
    11. All gifs obtained from Gify.com; links for each gif are posted below the respective image.
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