Thursday September 20, 2018

Endocrine Disruptors – The emerging public health concern

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By Dr. JK Bhutani

What is an Endocrine Disruptor: A chemical that interferes (or disrupts) with the formation, secretion or functioning of hormones (secreted by endocrine glands) in our body.

Endocrine disruptors, in our environment are a reality and are entering our bodies from the air we breathe, the ambiance we live in, and the food-water-beverages we take. These are far more dangerous than the PM (particulate matter of controversial Delhi’s odd-even fight). Soon it should be the next hot public health concern for the governments as the evidence, from the environment labs regarding their link with various chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, decreased fertility and some cancers, swells.

Many other developmental, reproductive, neural, immune, and other problems noted in laboratory animals may well be true for humans too. The Endocrine Society of US released a statement on ‘Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)’ recently specifically listing THEIR ROLE in obesity, diabetes, female reproduction, male reproduction, hormone-sensitive cancers in females, prostate cancer in males, thyroid, learning disabilities, attention-deficit-disorder, and some neuro-developmental abnormalities. The epidemic of diabetes and thyroid disorders in India and the role of these chemicals are not well researched but the link may well be more than conjectural.

 

What are the chemicals that make these Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are so ubiquitous! Every daily need from a toothpaste, soap, detergents, body-lotions, perfumes, food additives, potable water, vegetables, milk and stored cereals may contain residues of chemicals, pesticides and other adulterant toxins. The health effects are difficult to assess because of the fact that people are typically exposed to multiple endocrine disruptors simultaneously and the amount and the route of the chemical entering the system is variable.

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A wide and varied range of substances are implicated and some have definite proven role like diethylstilbestrol, dioxin, dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT, and some other pesticides. Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in  polycarbonate plastics, epoxy resins and other interior fixtures in homes and Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), used in packaging consumer foods are entering our systems from  our living rooms and kitchens. They are decoy silent invaders and slow killers of our immunity and defence.

Harmful effects

Endocrine Disruptors can interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body. The ‘survival and propagation’ and ‘homeostasis’ is built in our system and all the array of hormones from various endocrine glands like pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, testes-ovaries and other scattered endocrine tissues are tools of this process.

The ‘Fight-Flight Response’ and all the stress coping mechanisms are possible only with these hormones. The disruption of these vital molecules by the extraneous chemicals is quite logical and the evidence based modern medicine has just to corroborate it. The low dose, the wide multiple effects and the ubiquitous exposure makes endocrine disrupting chemicals difficult to handle.

Prevention

We cannot avoid these in current ‘anything-for-money’ times. The global markets and poor regulatory mechanisms of developing countries and global suppliers only add to the load of toxic exposures on us. A public awareness movement is needed to check the onslaught of harmful chemicals that may act as endocrine disruptors.

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A few useful tips in this regard are:

  • Eat only as much as you need! You will never repent eating less and you shall eat fewer toxins too.
  • Eat fresh and avoid preservative rich processed/packed foods. Grow some vegetables and fruit in your kitchen-garden. Wash the vegetables/fruits well, Wash grains and dry before use, Pool a cow and a farm if possible and Raise a voice for organic farming.
  • Do not use plastics for food cooking or serving. Avoid disposables. Finally, cook well and reject if you find any unpleasant odour.

 

Dr J.K. Bhutani, MD is a protagonist of preventive and promotive health care based on austere biology and facilitating self-healing powers of human organism. Twitter: @drjkbhutani

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Exposure to Certain Disinfectants Can Cause Obesity in Kids: Research

The use of eco-friendly products may be linked to healthier overall maternal lifestyles and eating habits.

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Disinfectants
How common household cleaners could make kids overweight. Flickr

Early life exposure to certain disinfectants used at home could be making children overweight by altering the composition of their gut bacteria, suggests new research.

Babies living in households that used eco-friendly cleaners had different microbiota and were less likely to be overweight as toddlers, showed the findings published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

For the study, the researchers analysed the gut flora of 757 infants from the general population at age 3-4 months and weight at ages 1 and 3 years, looking at exposure to disinfectants, detergents and eco-friendly products used in the home.

Disinfectants
Mother’s Lifestyle Choices Linked to Obesity Risk in Adolescents. Pixabay

The researchers looked at data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort on microbes in infant fecal matter. They used World Health Organization growth charts for body mass index (BMI) scores.

Associations with altered gut flora in babies 3-4 months old were strongest for frequent use of household disinfectants such as multi-surface cleaners, which showed lower levels of Haemophilus and Clostridium bacteria but higher levels of Lachnospiraceae.

The researchers also observed an increase in Lachnospiraceae bacteria with more frequent cleaning with disinfectants.

They, however, did not find the same association with detergents or eco-friendly cleaners.

“We found that infants living in households with disinfectants being used at least weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of the gut microbes Lachnospiraceae at age 3-4 months,” said Anita Kozyrskyj, Professor at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Disinfectants
The researchers looked at data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort on microbes in infant fecal matter. Flcikr

“When they were 3 years old, their body mass index was higher than children not exposed to heavy home use of disinfectants as an infant,” Kozyrskyj said.

“Those infants growing up in households with heavy use of eco cleaners had much lower levels of the gut microbes Enterobacteriaceae,” she said.

Also Read: Asthma Ups The Chance of Obesity: Study

Kozyrskyj suggests that the use of eco-friendly products may be linked to healthier overall maternal lifestyles and eating habits, contributing in turn to the healthier gut microbiomes and weight of their infants. (IANS)