functional medicine diabetesAccording to a statement issued 3 days ago by the Endocrine Society, their summary links endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure to two of the biggest public health risks, diabetes and obesity.

This builds upon the Endocrine Society’s 2009 report, which examined the scientific evidence on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and the health risks associated with them. Over this time additional research has demonstrated that exposure to EDCs is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and obesity. Also, rising evidence indicates this exposure is linked to infertility, hormone-related cancers, neurological issues and other chronic diseases.

EDCs mimic, block or interfere with the body’s natural hormones and as a result, EDCs alter the way cells proliferate and develop.

Examples of EDCs:
• Bisphenol A (BPA)- found in food can linings and cash register receipts.
• Phthalates – found in plastics (PVC products, vinyl shower curtains) and cosmetics (perfumes, nail polish, lotion)
• Flame retardants, solvents, lubricants (PCBs, PBBs, and PBDEs)
• Pesticides (sprayed on conventional fruits and vegetables), insecticides.
• Heavy Metals: cadmium, lead, arsenic, mercury

These chemicals are so common that everyone has been exposed to these. There was an analysis published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism earlier this year in March which estimated that EDC exposure will likely cost the European Union $209 billion a year in actual health care expenses and lost earning potential.

There is currently more evidence than ever before. It is a fact that EDCs disrupt hormones in a manner that harms human health. Hundreds of studies have confirmed over and over again
This exposure is of particular concern especially to unborn children exposed to EDCs during pregnancy. Studies have demonstrated that exposure to even very small amounts of EDCs during pregnancy can trigger obesity in the child later in life. Furthermore, studies have also found that some EDCs directly target beta and alpha cells in the pancreas, fat cells, and liver cells, which can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

This recent report also linked EDCs to reproductive health issues, hormone-related cancers such, prostate disorders, thyroid disease, and neurodevelopmental issues. Most of us are aware that many of these conditions were linked to EDCs previous research, however, that number is continuing to grow.

The truth is, we all live in an ever-increasing toxic environment. More than 80,000 chemicals are introduced into the world each year. We are exposed to pesticides, herbicides, chemical solvents, xenobiotics, and industrial chemicals of all kinds that we get exposed through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. These toxins accumulate in our body and contribute to the total toxic load that can cause a variety of health problems.

We need to do their best to minimize further exposure. We also have to keep in mind that our indoor environment is likely more toxic than our outdoor environment. What can we do?

Tip to Help Avoid EDCs:
• Eat organic produce (join your local CSA)
• Buy free-range, organic meats to reduce exposure from added hormones and pesticides.
• Buy products available in glass containers rather than plastic or cans when possible.
• Cookware: Replace non-stick pans with glass, ceramic, or cast iron.
• Drink filtered water
• Use a shower head with a filter
• Use household products that are fragrance-free and free of phthalates and BPA.

There is significant evidence on the importance of diet and nutritional supplementation in maintaining detoxification pathways.

Nutritional Support for Detoxification
• Milk Thistle is one of the most protective herbs for the liver with hundreds of studies that confirm its protective properties.

• N-Acetyl Cysteine- supports phase II detoxification and precursor to glutathione

• Calcium D-Glucarate- aids in liver detoxification through the glucuronidation pathway. Xenobiotics, environmental toxins, and excess estrogens are cleared through this pathway.

• EGCg- the most extensively studied green tea polyphenol. Green tea also supports detoxification by enhancing the glucuronidation pathway in addition to modulating blood glucose, and its antioxidant and cancer protective properties.

• A Detoxification Program

Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals is virtually impossible to avoid. We need to do our best to limit our exposure and make lifestyle and nutritional choices to properly detoxifying these chemicals.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN

Source: A. C. Gore, V. A. Chappell, S. E. Fenton, J. A. Flaws, A. Nadal, G. S. Prins, J. Toppari, R. T. Zoeller. Executive Summary to EDC-2: The Endocrine Society’s Second Scientific Statement on Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. Endocrine Reviews, 2015; er.2015-1093 DOI:10.1210/er.2015-1093

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