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How to Avoid Exposure to Chemicals that Mess with Your Hormones

By Dan Shapley

A new report from the Environmental Working Group and Keep a Breast Foundation identifies the "dirty dozen" endocrine disrupting chemicals--those substances, often found in consumer products, food and elsewhere in our daily lives, that mimic hormones and may affect a variety of health issues. A growing body of independent science points to concerns about the effect of some of these chemicals, even at low doses (since the chemicals mimic hormones, which themselves can have big effects on the body in tiny concentrations).

The actual list will mean something to some people, with some now-recognizable chemicals like Bisphenol A and phthalates topping the list. Also on the list: dioxin, atrazine, perchlorate, fire retardants, lead, arsenic, mercury, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), organophosphate pesticides and glycol ethers.
More critical are the tips for avoiding each of these substances. As any consumer who has schooled herself on the subject of avoiding any one of these will know, however, the task is not easy. Here's a sampling of tips that will get you started:
  • Eat fresh food, rather than canned.
  • Avoid cash-register receipts.
  • Avoid plastics marked with "PC" for polycarbonate, or recycling number 7. Don't store or cook foood in plastics of any kind, including plastic wrap made from No. 3 plastic.
  • Eat less meat, fish, milk, eggs and butter.
  • Buy organic produce.
  • Choose a water filter that will remove atrazine, perchlorate, lead, arsenic and other chemicals.
  • Avoid personal care products with "fragrance" in the list of ingredients.
  • Be sure to consume the recommended amount of iodine, iron, calcium and Vitamin C.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  • Don't eat fish high on the food chain, like tuna, swordfish and shark.
  • Don't use non-stick pans, or products with stain- and water-resistant coatings.
  • Don't buy cleaning products or other household chemicals that include the ingredients 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME).
There are many more tips available in the guide itself--a must read.
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