Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals and Endometriosis: Part 2
Hormone disrupting chemicals can have a negative impact on health. This two-part article will cover the two chemicals that have been most researched for their negative health impact on those with endometriosis.
BPA and endometriosis
Bisphenol A, known commonly as BPA, is a chemical used in the packaging industry. The Environmental Protection Agency describes it as a “reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxicant”. BPA has the ability to act like estrogen in the human body. This is what makes it potentially problematic for those diagnosed with endometriosis. Exposure to BPA occurs predominantly via the gastrointestinal tract. This is because BPA is used in food packaging.1
As humans, we are exposed to thousands of different chemicals on a daily basis. The majority of these will not impact our health. The difference between a chemical having a positive or negative effect on our health can be described by three main factors. Firstly, the amount of exposure to the chemical that is needed to have a negative impact. Secondly, the frequency of this exposure or how often we come into contact with it. Lastly, our own individual susceptibility to this specific chemical. This concept can be easily explained by using exposure to cat fur as an example. In most people, exposure to cat fur would not cause any reaction at all. In some people repeated exposure might result in runny nose and hayfever symptoms. In a specific group of people, a very small exposure to cat fur will have them sneezing and puffing up and going straight for the medicine cabinet.
What do the studies say about BPA and endometriosis?
In women diagnosed with endometriosis, exposure to chemicals that interfere with the intricate cascade of female hormones may potentially have more of an impact than it would for those without endometriosis. The development of endometriosis appears to be partly associated with exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals at varying stages of life, from in the uterus to symptom development.2 However, a recent study has shown that it may also be associated with the further development of symptoms; What they found was that increased levels of BPA in women with endo placed them at higher risk for endo in the abdominal lining. This means that there is an increased risk of involvement of the bladder, bowels, diaphragm, appendix organs for those with increased BPA exposure.3
How can I reduce my exposure to BPA?
The main way that people are exposed to BPA is when they ingest it. BPA can be leached from the coating of cans and plastic beverage bottles and then swallowed. The leaching of BPA from food and beverage packaging is increased with increased heat. A water bottle stored in your car in the height of summer exposed to sunlight and heat is more likely to contain more BPA than a plastic water bottle stored in the fridge or away from heat and sunlight.
Minimize exposure to BPA with these simple and easy ideas
- Choose products labeled BPA-free whenever possible
- If you are taking water with you, always give preference to stainless steel or glass containers
- Make sure your cans are dent free and state that they do not contain BPA
- Buy cosmetic and beauty products in glass containers
- Store all plastics away from heat & direct sunlight
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