Are Chemicals Making You Sick? The Full List of Obesogens
Here’s something every woman should know: it’s not just food and exercise that matter for health and weight. If it was that simple, we would all be thriving. So why aren’t we? Besides emotional health and poor-quality food, man-made chemicals are one of the fastest growing issues affecting people’s health today.
Ask yourself these questions:
Are you struggling to lose weight?
Have you gained unexplained weight despite making healthy food choices & movement?
Do you not feel as good as you used to and you’re not sure why?
Are you having terrible periods, poor hormone balance, or having trouble getting pregnant?
Do you get migraines or headaches?
Do your kids struggle to stay focused or do you?
Are you suddenly having unexplained rashes or breakouts?
Well you are about to understand why being healthy has gotten even harder and how silent sabatogers you are not aware of, called obesogens, are wrecking not only our health, but the health of our future generations.
The first thing to understand is that because of poor regulation of man-made chemicals, obesogens are everywhere.
Obesogens — also known as endocrine disruptors — are chemicals that disrupt our bodies’ naturally occurring metabolic processes. They predispose you to gain weight by increasing fat, slowing your metabolism, and changing your hunger signals.
They can be found in the plastic water bottles and containers we use daily, on conventionally raised produce that’s been sprayed heavily with pesticides, in our cosmetics that we apply to our face every day, and even the air we breath and the water we drink daily.
The term “obesogen” was first coined in 2006 by Bruce Blumberg of the University of California, Irvine where he was studying the effects of common environmental chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and plastics on reproductive issues and how it affected future generations. He found that pregnant rats exposed to high levels of these chemicals (obesogens) had offspring with reproductive issues, but even more importantly, their offspring (great-grandchildren) were born with higher obesity rates. In fact, human studies have confirmed the link between BPA (plastic) exposure and obesity.
The results of research on obesogens gets worse:
When the rats were exposed to high levels of plasticides (such as pthalates and BPA) not only were they more obese, but their offspring were are well. The same link between BPA exposure and obesity was found in studies conducted on humans.
One specific chemical used in marine paint, tributyltin (TBT), was found to increase weight gain by encouraging the production of more fat cells.
Even our sex hormones and thyroid function, which in turn have implications for weight gain, have been shown to be effected by obesogens.
Heavy metals such as arsenic can also increase obesity.
To make matters worse, besogens are also endocrine disruptors, which means that they mimic your body’s own natural hormones, especially estrogen.
This confuses your cells and messes up the communication between them.
This is why endocrine disruptors are a big issues for women because estrogen must be in balance with all other hormones for us to feel our best and not have painful periods and massive hormone issues.
While PMS is common, it is NOT NORMAL. Our exposure to these man-made chemicals is why PMS and hormone dysfunction, including infertility, are at an all-time high!
Side note: Before any wonderful chemist friends get upset, when I use the word chemical in this blog, I am referring to man-made, synthetic chemicals created in laboratories, I am not referring to all chemicals. I fully understand that all the processes in our bodies are started and regulated by natural chemical reactions.
Hormone Disruption Stats:
Fertility problems now affect 1 in 6 women.
Endometriosis, fibroids, PMS, & menopausal issues now affect millions of women. To be clear, these issues are NOT NORMAL, they are just COMMON.
When I was in school PCOS was something we really didn’t even talk about. Now 10% of women have PCOS & it continues to grow.
Over 50 million Americans have autoimmune disease, but whats really sobering is that more than 75% are women.
Our hormones are being high-jacked by endocrine dysruptors in the products we use daily. The worse part, these companies KNOW these chemicals are a problem. This is why we need to start using our buying power and telling companies that we are no longer harming our health for their bottom line. Because that is what we are talking about here, money. They want to make their product as cheap as possible and man-made chemicals are how you do it, instead of using real ingredients found in nature.
One of the most important things to understand about obesogens is that it affects pregnant women, small children, and adolescents the MOST.
How Do Obesogens Affect THE Body?
They encourage the body to store fat.
They reprogram stem cells to become fat cells - simply put create more fat cells.
They cause the liver to become insulin resistant - this causes the body to pump out more insulin to control blood sugar, leading to increased fat storage all over the body.
They high-jack your hunger signals, especially leptin, your satiety hormone. Aka, it makes you more hungry all the time!
They inhibit fat burning making weight loss or maintenance difficult.
They mimic our hormones and confuse the body.
Known & suspected obesogens:
This is the full list of known and suspected obesogens so far. These are only expected to continue to grow. As you will see, you are exposed to many of these, if not all daily depending on your lifestyle choices.
1.High Fructose Corn Syrup
HFCS is a sweetener made from corn starch. The average american eats a pound a week because it is in most all packaged food products. Check your labels.
Found in a number of plants, but soybeans and soy products like tofu and textured vegetable protein are the primary food source.
3. Mondosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Used in the food industry as a flavor enhancer, especially popular in Asian food, soups, gravy, and frozen meals.
An average cigarette yields about 2 mg of absorbed nicotine.
(DES) is a synthetic form of the female hormone estrogen. It was prescribed to pregnant women between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage, premature labor, and related complications of pregnancy.
Synthetic estrogen prescription.This is why using bio-identical hormones is recommend if you must take hormone replacement therapy, do your research, you do not want to just take the standard estrogen prescription.
7. Bisphenaol A (BPA)
An industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate, a hard, clear plastic, which is used in many consumer products, including water bottles, plastic containers, shower curtains, beauty products & so much more.
More than 90% of people have BPA in their systems.
May enter waterways from anti-fouling coatings, molluscicide formulations for the control of snails, by spraying of agricultural biocides and by soil leaching from fields sprayed with biocides. Biocidal applications are the major contributors to organotin compounds in the environment.
9. Perfluorooctanioic Acid (PFOA)
Consumer products – production of nonstick cookware and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water
Water – contaminated with PFOA
Food – grown in soil or water contaminated with PFOA
10. Phthalates ( Known as the “The Everywhere Chemical”)
Found in toys, car interiors, personal care & beauty products, vinyl clothing, vinyl flooring, vinyl wallpaper, and vinyl shower curtains.
11. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
Consumer products – many home, automotive, and electronic products that need to be flame-retardant or difficult to burn
Air – house dust from products that contain PBDEs
Food and water – contaminated food, especially high-fat foods and fish; drinking water
12. Polychlorinated Biphenyl Ethers (PCBs)
Used as plasticizers in many paints, plastics, and rubber products
A neurotoxic pesticide widely used in U.S. agriculture.
Used in agriculture to control insects on fruit, vegetable, nut and field crops.
A manufactured chemical, so it is found in the environment only as a result of its manufacture or use
Other Environmental Pollutants:
The main source of atmospheric BaP is residential wood burning. It is also found in coal tar, in automobile exhaust fumes (especially from diesel engines), in all smoke resulting from the combustion of organic material (including cigarette smoke), and in charbroiled food.
17. Fine Particulate Matter (PM)
A mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air usually from construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires.
18. Heavy Metals, including Lead
Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – the air, the soil, the water, and even inside our homes.
WHY THIS MATTERS to you:
It’s important for everyone to understand that the latest evidence is that only small amounts of these obesogens have profound affects on our body. Worse yet, research is separating out these chemicals for research purposes and determining safe exposure by looking at them one at a time! However we are exposed to a “chemical soup” of these in combination daily coming from our food, beauty products, cleaning products, household items, and the environment, including the water and air. No one is JUST being exposed to, for example, BPA alone in a day. Instead we are getting exposed to multiple, if not all of these, in combination daily. So studies need to change their approach because isolating these chemicals out is not going to give the full picture of how these are truly high-jacking our health. What’s more, the research is still growing for the affects these chemicals are having on our health, but yes, not every study is conclusive. With that said, I would rather switch products and put something on my body or in my mouth that has already been shown to have no harm versus continuing to use anything that has even one negative study attached to it.
Stats that will make you scratch your head:
There are over 84, 000 chemicals registered for use in the United States & only 200 have actually been assessed for safety (Yes, only 200 & you use many of them daily!)
It has been since 1938 when the last federal law regulating cosmetics was passed. That seems impossible, but it’s true.
Over 28% of developmental disorders in children attributed to environmental exposure, especially during gestation.
One study found an average of 232 chemicals in umbilical cord blood. This is surprising because it is considered to be a sterile environment! Imagine what’s in the mother!
Simply put, it’s not IF you are being exposed, it is HOW MUCH you are being exposed.
That’s the bad news… now for the good news!
Our daily choices have an enormous impact, or as we like to say “small changes make big differences.” You can absolutely start reducing your daily toxin exposure and making an impact on your long-term health and your hormones. Here are 12 things you can do to limit your exposure to hormone disruptors starting today.
top places to start for lowering your exposure to obesogens:
Choose Organic: Whenever possible buy organic produce. To keep this affordable, focus on buying the dirty dozen. You can find the list here. Organic is also important with meat due to how conventionally farmed animals are raised they are high in persistent toxins.
Limit canned and packaged foods where able: Look for your favorite products in glass or BPA-free lined cans.
Take your shoes off before walking into your house: Yes, really. I know, I hate this one too, but its actually been proven to be one of the biggest exposures. I highly recommend a no shoe rule in the house within reason.
Become aware of air pollution from both indoor and outdoor exposure. These are big exposures, so simple ways to improve them is to not burn conventional candles in the house (more on safer candle options here), check your air quality score online (yes, this is a real thing!) and open windows to allow clean air in when possible and reduce indoor pollutants. Always use your kitchen exhaust fan when cooking/frying. Check out our affordable way to help create a HEPA filters for better indoor air here.
Avoid taking receipts: Minimize exposure to carbonless paper, thermal paper (e.g., cash register receipts) and do not use recycled paper products in contact with food.
Replace or minimize the use of nonstick cookware. Studies are very clear on the negative affects from non-stick cookware.
Switch to glass and stainless steel containers. Minimize the use of all forms of plastic, particularly for food storage and preparation. You can read about how to make a plastic free kitchen here.
Use reusable cups: You can read about some of our favorite to-go cups here.
Choose nontoxic cosmetics and household cleaners: The exposure from these is high, so slowly replace one product at a time to get this exposure out of your life.
Clean house regularly, especially vacuuming & dusting: If your in the market for a new vacuum cleaner look for one with a HEPA filter. When dusting use a damp rag as a dry rag pushes dust into the air making it easier to be inhaled.
Wash your hands: Wash hands before eating or preparing food.
Read your clothing labels: Clothes are often sprayed with flame retardants that are known endocrine disruptors, but they are also often made with polyester. Instead, use cotton and other untreated natural fibers. You can read more about this issue here.
Those are actions you can take immediately. Now…. here’s what you do about the chemicals you’ve already been exposed to!
how to help your body handle chemical exposure:
Supporting detoxification in the body.
Make sure you are having a daily bowel movement daily! You can read more about the importance of this, especially for hormones here.
Eat your leafy greens and vegetables! These are key for supporting detox.
Limit alcohol or avoid all together because this taxes the liver significantly.
Many herbs and supplements can really help to support the liver and detox the body well, but this is a very individualized process.
Supporting detoxification and avoiding chemical exposure is key for supporting fertility in both men and women. Start with looking at your daily body products, but also working with a practitioner that is going to help you tackle this important topic.
I truly believe that when we step into taking our power back and start to change our own health, this truly translates into impacting others and the planet we live on.
When we use our buying power to demand better, safer, cleaner products we are pushing the market to respond and step up and offer these choices.
That is powerful!
As we shift, the products offered shift, and in turn the world shifts. Simply by making one small S|H|E shift at a time you are making a difference, for not only you, but others and the planet. So when you feel overwhelmed, focus on that and join us in the free S|H|E community or S|H|E day and remember why you started and get the support you need to keep going because it is so worth it!
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