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Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC)

Endocrine disruptors are external chemicals that can interfere with natural hormone systems. This can occur before birth, or at any stage during life.

The most critical stage of development occurs from when the fertilized egg starts to divide, until it rapidly develops into a fully formed baby in the womb. Endocrine disruptors can affect critical structural and functional development of the brain, sexual development, thyroid development, and many other aspects of the developing baby. Exposure before birth can lead to overt or subtle lifelong health and reproductive abnormalities, permanent alterations and adult disease.

One study concluded that EDC’s likely cost health care systems across the EU anywhere between 59 and 1,18 billion Euros a year due to their effect on male reproductive health, and this represents only ‘a fraction of the endocrine related diseases’


There are many types of EDC’s. A few examples are Parabens, bisphenol A ( BPA) , DDT, phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’S ) Almost all plastic products contain them in one form or another.


These are added to many cosmetic products, creams and beauty products, to prolong their shelf life. They are readily absorbed through the skin. Parabens are associated with breast cancer, and affect other reproductive tissues. They may be listed as methylparabens, or butylparabens. It is important to look for the “parabens” part of the word.


Commonly found in plastics. It is associated with many illnesses. A few examples are breast and prostate cancer, reproductive problems and decreased sperm count, early onset of puberty and neurological problems. Bisphenol S (BPS) is an analog of BPA. It is now being used because of the ban on BPA, but can be just as harmful.


These are found in air fresheners, medical equipment, cosmetics, flooring products, and soft toys. They are associated with poor mental development, a drop in IQ of more than 6%, and early development of puberty in girls. Their use is banned in toys produced in Europe and California.


These are used, for example, in flame retardants in plastic cases of computers, televisions, carpets, car components and foam cushions. They particularly affect thyroid hormone balance, and developmental problems including low intelligence and learning disabilities.

What can be done.

The effects of EDT’s are a major health concern. Monitoring programs of European breast milk samples have shown that PBDE levels are increasing. An analysis of PBDE content in breast milk samples from Europe, Canada, and the US shows that levels are 40 times higher for North American women than for Swedish women, and that levels are doubling every two to six years.

There are attempts to regulate and monitor their use, but many large companies have a huge financial vested interest, and challenge most of the research findings and attempts at regulation.

There was a very long delay between the harmful effects of cigarette smoking becoming known, and this finally being accepted as medically correct. This was due to the influence and challenge of the tobacco companies. The same will happen with EDT’s

An analysis of EDC’s in Old Order Mennonite women in mid-pregnancy determined that they have much lower levels in their systems than the general population. Mennonites eat mostly fresh, unprocessed foods, farm without pesticides and use few or no cosmetics or personal care products.

In a study, one woman who had reported using hairspray and perfume had high levels of monoethyl phthalate, while the other women had undetectable levels. Three women who had been in a truck or car within 48 hours of being tested had high levels of phthalate, which is used in car interiors.

We live in a world where EDC’s are everywhere. They cannot be avoided completely.

But what we can do is avoid what is known by carefully checking the ingredients of products such as creams and beauty products. For example, avoid anything with parabens, try to limit exposure to unnecessary chemicals such as air fresheners, wash foods well to try to wash off pesticides, and eat as far as possible fresh, unprocessed or organic foods.

This is a short summary of a few of the EDC’s These is a wealth of information on the internet.

Sebamed, Eucerin and SBR ranges of soaps and baby products do not contain these chemicals.