Endocrine Disruptors – the top 12 chemicals that mess with your hormones

www.EWG.org is a wonderfully educative, not-for-profit organization that helps the EPA in its functions to monitor and guide industry and consumers regarding chemicals in the environment and how this affects our health.  Much of chronic disease, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, autism, ADD etc is fueled by the undesirable effects these have on our health.

Read the information below – it will help you identify the common chemicals in our environment that can harm your health.

Most of the chemicals can be removed safely from your body, ask us how.

Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors

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Some may say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but do you really want a chemical used in plastics imitating the sex hormone estrogen in your body? No! Unfortunately, this synthetic hormone can trick the body into thinking it’s the real thing – and the results aren’t pretty. BPA has been linked to everything from breast and others cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease, and according to government tests, 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies!

How to avoid it? Go fresh instead of canned – many food cans are lined with BPA – or research which companies don’t use BPA or similar chemicals in their products. Say no to receipts, since thermal paper is often coated with BPA. And avoid plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7. Not all of these plastics contain BPA, but many do – and it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to keeping synthetic hormones out of your body.

For more tips, check out: www.ewg.org/bpa/



Dioxins are multi-taskers… but not in a good way! They form during many industrial processes when chlorine or bromine are burned in the presence of carbon and oxygen. Dioxins can disrupt the delicate ways that both male and female sex hormone signaling occurs in the body. This is a bad thing! Here’s why: Recent research has shown that exposure to low levels of dioxin in the womb and early in life can both permanently affect sperm quality and lower the sperm count in men during their prime reproductive years. But that’s not all! Dioxins are very long-lived, build up both in the body and in the food chain, are powerful carcinogens and can also affect the immune and reproductive systems.

How to avoid it? That’s pretty difficult, since the ongoing industrial release of dioxin has meant that the American food supply is widely contaminated. Products including meat, fish, milk, eggs and butter are most likely to be contaminated, but you can cut down on your exposure by eating fewer animal products.



What happens when you introduce highly toxic chemicals into nature and turn your back? For one thing, feminization of male frogs. That’s right, researchers have found that exposure to even low levels of the herbicide atrazine can turn male frogs into females that produce completely viable eggs. Atrazine is widely used on the majority of corn crops in the United States, and consequently it’s a pervasive drinking water contaminant. Atrazine has been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate inflammation in animals, and some research has linked it to prostate cancer in people.

How to avoid it? Buy organic produce and get a drinking water filter certified to remove atrazine.

For help finding a suitable filter, check out EWG’s buying guide: www.ewg.org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide/



Did you know that a specific signal programs cells in our bodies to die? It’s totally normal and healthy for 50 billion cells in your body to die every day! But studies have shown that chemicals called phthalates can trigger what’s known as “death-inducing signaling” in testicular cells, making them die earlier than they should. Yep, that’s cell death – in your man parts. If that’s not enough, studies have linked phthalates to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities.

How to avoid it? A good place to start is to avoid plastic food containers, children’s toys (some phthalates are already banned in kid’s products), and plastic wrap made from PVC, which has the recycling label #3. Some personal care products also contain phthalates, so read the labels and avoid products that simply list added “fragrance,” since this catch-all term sometimes means hidden phthalates.

Find phthalate-free personal care products with EWG’s Skin Deep Database: www.ewg.org/skindeep/



Who needs food tainted with rocket fuel?! That’s right, perchlorate, a component in rocket fuel, contaminates much of our produce and milk, according to EWG and government test data. When perchlorate gets into your body it competes with the nutrient iodine, which the thyroid gland needs to make thyroid hormones. Basically, this means that if you ingest too much of it you can end up altering your thyroid hormone balance. This is important because it’s these hormones that regulate metabolism in adults and are critical for proper brain and organ development in infants and young children.

How to avoid it? You can reduce perchlorate in your drinking water by installing a reverse osmosis filter. (You can get help finding one at: www.ewg.org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide) As for food, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid perchlorate, but you can reduce its potential effects on you by making sure you are getting enough iodine in your diet. Eating iodized salt is one good way.


Fire retardants

What do breast milk and polar bears have in common? In 1999, some Swedish scientists studying women’s breast milk discovered something totally unexpected: The milk contained an endocrine-disrupting chemical found in fire retardants, and the levels had been doubling every five years since 1972! These incredibly persistent chemicals, known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, have since been found to contaminate the bodies of people and wildlife around the globe – even polar bears. These chemicals can imitate thyroid hormones in our bodies and disrupt their activity. That can lead to lower IQ, among other significant health effects. While several kinds of PBDEs have now been phased out, this doesn’t mean that toxic fire retardants have gone away. PBDEs are incredibly persistent, so they’re going to be contaminating people and wildlife for decades to come.

How to avoid it? It’s virtually impossible, but passing better toxic chemical laws that require chemicals to be tested before they go on the market would help reduce our exposure. A few things that can you can do in the meantime include: use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which can cut down on toxic-laden house dust; avoid reupholstering foam furniture; take care when replacing old carpet (the padding underneath may contain PBDEs).

Find more tips at: www.ewg.org/pbdefree/



You may or may not like heavy metal music, but lead is one heavy metal you want to avoid. It’s well known that lead is toxic, especially to children. Lead harms almost every organ system in the body and has been linked to a staggering array of health effects, including permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, premature birth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and nervous system problems. But few people realize that one other way that lead may affect your body is by disrupting your hormones. In animals, lead has been found to lower sex hormone levels. Research has also shown that lead can disrupt the hormone signaling that regulates the body’s major stress system (called the HPA axis). You probably have more stress in your life than you want, so the last thing you need is something making it harder for your body to deal with it – especially when this stress system is implicated in high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and depression.

How to avoid it? Keep your home clean and well maintained. Crumbling old paint is a major source of lead exposure, so get rid of it carefully. A good water filter can also reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water. (Check out www.ewg.org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide/ for help finding a filter.) And if you need another reason to eat better, studies have also shown that children with healthy diets absorb less lead.



Arsenic isn’t just for murder mysteries anymore. In fact, this toxin is lurking in your food and drinking water. If you eat enough of it, arsenic will kill you outright. In smaller amounts, arsenic can cause skin, bladder and lung cancer. Basically, bad news. Less well known: Arsenic messes with your hormones! Specifically, it can interfere with normal hormone functioning in the glucocorticoid system that regulates how our bodies process sugars and carbohydrates. What does that mean for you? Well, disrupting the glucocorticoid system has been linked to weight gain/loss, protein wasting, immunosuppression, insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes), osteoporosis, growth retardation and high blood pressure.

How to avoid it? Reduce your exposure by using a water filter that lowers arsenic levels.

For help finding a good water filter, check out EWG’s buying guide: www.ewg.org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide/



Caution: That sushi you are eating could be hazardous to your health. Mercury, a naturally occurring but toxic metal, gets into the air and the oceans primarily though burning coal. Eventually, it can end up on your plate in the form of mercury-contaminated seafood. Pregnant women are the most at risk from the toxic effects of mercury, since the metal is known to concentrate in the fetal brain and can interfere with brain development. Mercury is also known to bind directly to one particular hormone that regulates women’s menstrual cycle and ovulation, interfering with normal signaling pathways. In other words, hormones don’t work so well when they’ve got mercury stuck to them! The metal may also play a role in diabetes, since mercury has been shown to damage cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, which is critical for the body’s ability to metabolize sugar.

How to avoid it? For people who still want to eat (sustainable) seafood with lots of healthy fats but without a side of toxic mercury, wild salmon and farmed trout are good choices.


Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

The perfluorinated chemicals used to make non-stick cookware can stick to you. Perfluorochemicals are so widespread and extraordinarily persistent that 99 percent of Americans have these chemicals in their bodies. One particularly notorious compound called PFOA has been shown to be “completely resistant to biodegradation.” In other words, PFOA doesn’t break down in the environment – ever. That means that even though the chemical was banned after decades of use, it will be showing up in people’s bodies for countless generations to come. This is worrisome, since PFOA exposure has been linked to decreased sperm quality, low birth weight, kidney disease, thyroid disease and high cholesterol, among other health issues. Scientists are still figuring out how PFOA affects the human body, but animal studies have found that it can affect thyroid and sex hormone levels.

How to avoid it? Skip non-stick pans as well as stain and water-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture and carpets.


Organophosphate pesticides

Neurotoxic organophosphate compounds that the Nazis produced in huge quantities for chemical warfare during World War II were luckily never used. After the war ended, American scientists used the same chemistry to develop a long line of pesticides that target the nervous systems of insects. Despite many studies linking organophosphate exposure to effects on brain development, behavior and fertility, they are still among the more common pesticides in use today. A few of the many ways that organophosphates can affect the human body include interfering with the way testosterone communicates with cells, lowering testosterone and altering thyroid hormone levels.

How to avoid it? Buy organic produce and use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which can help you find the fruits and vegetables that have the fewest pesticide residues. Check it out at: www.ewg.org/foodnews/


Glycol Ethers

Shrunken testicles: Do we have your full attention now? This is one thing that can happen to rats exposed to chemicals called glycol ethers, which are common solvents in paints, cleaning products, brake fluid and cosmetics. Worried? You should be. The European Union says that some of these chemicals “may damage fertility or the unborn child.” Studies of painters have linked exposure to certain glycol ethers to blood abnormalities and lower sperm counts. And children who were exposed to glycol ethers from paint in their bedrooms had substantially more asthma and allergies.

How to avoid it? Start by checking out EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning (www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/) and avoid products with ingredients such as 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME).


Interview: Doctors should work for patients, not insurances.

Interview: Doctors should work for patients, not insurances.

Better care, with fewer health care costs, in a system where everyone has a HealthSavingsAccount?  Read the following interview and see if you agree.

Doctor LaGrelius MD truly has an in depth understanding of how to restructure the health care sector’s backbone to assure continued good quality primary doctors and enough good specialists.This is really worth a read for perspective, especially with the changes being made to the US medical system.

I agree with Dr LaGrelius MD that the Hippocratic, patient centered healthcare system, where doctors work for their patients and not the patients insurance company, is what encourages doctors to be cheerful about the days work, having time and mind to be good diagnosticians and also make thorough, in depth assessments followed by implementation of well rounded, safe and effective care protocols.

Doctors have a lower burn-out rate in concierge practices, probably due to our practice and medical philosophy being congruent and harmonious, which provides work satisfaction and not frustration. Personally, working for patients is a joy. It is very stressful however, when insurance companies don’t allow me to do my work thoroughly and properly to help drive results.
The figures speak for themselves: concierge practices, [like Restorative Health Clinic] cut hospitalizations by 79%, re-admissions 94%, and specialty care needs by 50%.The fundamental truth is that if you have a complex chronic medical condition like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme complex illness, cardiovascular disease etc. practices in the insurance model has time and mind for a quick band aid, but not the well thought through approach that delivers lasting results over time.
Werner Vosloo, ND, MHom.

10 Questions: Tom LaGrelius, MD

By David Pittman, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today


LaGrelius graduated from the University of Washington Medical School in Seattle in 1969 and served his internship and residency at the University of Southern California Medical Center. He gained his board certification in family medicine in 1977 and in geriatric medicine in 1990.

A past president and past board chair of the American Academy of Private Physicians, LaGrelius practices in a direct primary care or concierge-style model.


1. What’s the biggest barrier to your practicing medicine today?

One of my greatest concerns as a primary care concierge/direct practice doctor is that I cannot do everything. I need specialist consultants to deal with serious disorders even though I am preventing some of them. I fear that the system will so deteriorate that I will not be able to find qualified consultants willing to see my patients and able to care for their specialty needs privately inside the traditional Hippocratic healthcare delivery model where the patient comes first, not the interests of “society.” The biggest barrier to care is thus creeping socialism.

2. What is your most vivid memory involving a patient who could not afford to pay for healthcare (or meds or tests, etc.) and how did you respond?

Of course, there were and are many individuals I care for with little or no charge, but about 15 years ago my uninsured patients were being overcharged by hospitals at least three times, perhaps five times, the cost of care because of insurance company contracting distortions of the market ultimately caused by bad government policy.

I was helping Pat Rooney, the father of medical savings accounts, and K.B. Forbes, his publicist, with that issue. They were filing suits all over the country against hospitals who were overcharging the poor and uninsured and those with high deductible insurance. They developed a website, now inactive unfortunately, hospitalvictims.com, to show patients how much they were being overcharged. I was on the hospital executive committee and was able to convince the administration of Torrance Memorial Medical Center to offer first a 60%, then 70%, and now 81% discounts off the charge master for cash.

By doing so they avoided potentially being targeted for legal action, and that was the lever that made it happen. The program is still in force and is the best discount-for-cash-care hospital deal around. Rooney and Forbes were heroic on this issue, and I was privileged to help them locally and around the country. Rooney is gone. Forbes still owns the website, but lacks funds to keep it open.

3. What do you most often wish you could say to patients, but don’t?

Why do you feel entitled to healthcare?

4. If you could change or eliminate something about the healthcare system, what would it be?

Health insurance. It should be eliminated entirely except for very expensive catastrophes; 90% of healthcare purchases should be cash out of personally held Health Savings Accounts held by all citizens. If there is to be a mandate it should be that all Americans have an HSA as is the case in Singapore.

5. What is the most important piece of advice for med students or doctors just starting out today?

Go into primary care and become a direct practice doctor outside the insurance system. Work only for patients.

6. What is your “elevator” pitch to persuade someone to pursue a career in medicine?

This is the most rewarding, exciting career there is. You will never be bored. You will never lack work. You will never regret being a doctor IF you work only for patients. But if you don’t work only for patients, you will regret your decision in the end.

7. What is the most rewarding aspect of being a doctor?

Going home every night knowing I gave a dozen people a better day than they otherwise would have had, and occasionally actually saving a life.

8. What is the most memorable research published since you became a physician and why?

The American Journal of Managed Care, December 2012 article showing that concierge practices cut hospitalizations 79%, readmissions 94%, and specialty care needs 50%, proving that what I am doing is the right way to practice primary care medicine and is making patients healthier than other forms of primary care.

9. Do you have a favorite hospital-based TV show?

“Royal Pains”

10. What is your advice to other physicians on how to avoid burnout?

Drop insurance contracts and work only for patients. Practice in solo or small groups. Avoid conflicts of interest that prevent your doing what is best for each individual patient. Do not subscribe to the “public health” model of care if you are working with patients.