Hormones turn whelks into hermaphrodites. Tributyltin and hormone research
Research on whelks (a type of sea snail, which you’ve probably eaten at some point) led to a bizarre discovery. There was something remarkable about these tiny sea creatures. Near busy shipping routes in the North Sea, researcher Cato ten Hallers-Tjabbes discovered whelks which were both male and female. They had a penis as well as ovaries. The origin of these hermaphroditic whelks could be traced back to exposure to the chemical tributyltin (TBT).
Where did the tributyltin come from? It was mainly used in shipping. It was applied to ships’ hulls to prevent the growth of mussels and barnacles. Because of broader environmental hazards than causing hermaphroditism in snails, this chemical was universally banned in 2003. However, the discovery prompted further research into the causes of hormonal abnormalities. Unfortunately, it appears that our hormones increasingly run wild because we absorb the wrong substances. We absorb tiny quantities through the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the products we apply to our skin.
What effects do these endocrine disruptors actually have on our bodies, hormones?
Our natural hormones have a significant impact on our bodies. They’re important for our growth, development, immune system, reproduction, mental state and even our metabolism. Each of these elements is crucial in keeping us alive. Endocrine disruptors cause an unnatural imbalance. This can result in specific hormonal effects being either blocked or strengthened.
When you’re pregnant, it’s particularly important to think carefully about the use of products which contain endocrine disruptors. Unborn children are extremely sensitive. In our Western world diseases and chronic conditions are becoming increasingly widespread, and endocrine disruptors are a major cause of this. In particular, they’re associated with increased rates of infertility, immune system dysfunction, cancer, obesity and diabetes. The number of people dying from these diseases is steadily increasing.
Parabens, UV filters and pesticides: the most common disruptors of natural hormones. 800 Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)
|Fruits and vegetables||Amounts of pesticide residue (EDCs) (mg/kg)|
|Les quantités de pesticides ou d’EDC dans les fruits et les légumes influencent nos hormones|
There are currently around 800 substances regarded as endocrine disruptors. They are also known as hormone disruptors, or endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Even tiny amounts of these substances can have an effect. The best-known are:
- Phthalates: These are plasticisers, which are used to make plastic more flexible. They can be found in toys, plastic bags and certain medicines.
- Parabens: Best known as an ingredient in face creams. They primarily have an antibacterial effect. Unfortunately, they are also used as preservatives in food. These parabens are called E214 and E219.
- Bisphenol A: This is used to make plastic hard, and is mostly incorporated into drink bottles or used as a coating for tin cans and water pipes.
- UV filters: Often found in sunscreen, but is also in some day creams with UV protection. It’s better to use a natural UV filter such as red palm oil.
- Pesticides: These days, the food industry uses a huge number of different pesticides. These often have a considerable hormone disruption effect. People are often frightened when they see how much of these pesticides remains in our food, and therefore how much we end up eating.
- Triclosan: An antibacterial agent often found in personal care products. It’s not just in soap, it’s also in shampoo, toothpaste, and other products.
- Flame retardants: Many consumer goods contain flame retardants. These goods include furniture, textiles, paint and mattresses. On the one hand, they protect us when there really is a fire, but on the other hand they can also poison our bodies, even if only a little bit.
Your hormones: avoid endocrine disruptors for conscious living
The Belgian organisation Gezinsbond, which protects the interests of families, has produced a brochure in collaboration with other organisations. The brochure warns against the use of endocrine disruptors. It also contains some tips which you can apply in your own home. Products containing endocrine disruptors are everywhere in our homes. If we take a moment to work out which substances each product contains, we can live more conscious lives.
Here are some tips for keeping your hormones in balance
There are many endocrine disruptors in the products which an average person uses every day. It may be difficult to avoid them, but there are a few steps you can take.
- Start by consuming less. Consider whether what you’re buying is really necessary.
- Air out your house regularly. This lets fresh air in and harmful chemicals out. Consider the chemicals in your furniture (if made from processed materials), paint, electronic equipment, detergents, etc.
- As much as you can, try to clean using water with just a dash of environmentally-friendly all-purpose cleaner.
- Choose organic foods and foods with the EU Ecolabel.
- Opt for products free of parabens and perfumes and with no antibacterial effect, and keep an eye out for products which comply with specific certifications.
- Use a range of different products, to spread the risk of exposure as much as possible.
- Naturally, it’s important to check the ingredients on any products you use. Check that they don’t contain any EDCs and avoid these where possible.
A good diet and natural body care
At Amanprana, we always make a conscious effort to create products which comply with the following statements. For our range of foods: ‘Let food be thy medicine’. For our range of natural body care products: ‘If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin’. All our products are 100% organic and 0% chemical. Our packaging is also made from glass, which is not only good for the environment, it’s good for our bodies.