What are Endocrine (Hormone) Disruptors?

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the hormones in our bodies. These chemicals are capable of increasing and decreasing hormone production, mimicking hormones, changing hormones from one type into another, and interfering with hormone signaling (Crisp, 1998). Through these various mechanisms, endocrine disruptors have been linked to adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. Being both natural and man-made, these chemicals can be found in a wide range of everyday products, including plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides (NIEHS, 2014). Given their ubiquitous presence in everyday goods, it is important that consumers are aware of the risks of these products and have the tools to avoid them. By using Tellspec’s revolutionary smartphone app and the Tellspecopedia consumers will have the ability to quickly scan their food products and receive up-to-date information on items such as endocrine disruptors.

One Example of an endocrine (hormone) disruptor: BPA

What is BPA


BPA is the building block of polycarbonate plastic and is also used in the manufacture of epoxy resins. This endocrine disruptor is found in many common consumer products such as plastic food containers, plastic food packaging and canned food items lined with epoxy resin (Beronius, 2010). Not only found in food items, BPA is also present in compact discs, impact-resistant safety equipment, medical devices, water supply pipes, dental sealants (NIEHS, 2014) and store receipts (Liao, 2011). Though BPA is generally not present in food itself, plastic containers and epoxy lined cans slowly leech BPA into food over time. This leeching effect speeds up with the age and temperature of the container and also with the liquidity of the food item. Therefore, older plastic containers heated to high temperatures containing liquid products are the quickest at leeching BPA (NIEHS, 2014).

What can you do to avoid BPA?


Do you want this chemical imitating estrogen in your body? If not, choose fresh or dried foods instead of products canned in tin or plastic. If you cannot avoid the use of some canned or plastic items, be aware that the FDA considers BPA to be safe and does not require producers to label their merchandise as containing BPA or as BPA free (FDA, 2013). Therefore, to avoid unlabelled BPA-containing plastic, do not use plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or with recycling label #7 (FDA, 2013). In addition, check your tupperware manufacturers for their policies on BPA. If their products contain BPA, discontinue their use and seek out BPA-free tupperware. Though this may seem like a lot of work, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to keeping synthetic hormones out of your body.

Health Concerns


Studies have linked BPA to:

1.Breast cancer
BPA leads to an increased risk for development of breast tumors and has been shown to make cancer cells more aggressive.

2.Reproductive problems
BPA has been shown to reduce semen quality in men and lower estradiol levels and oocyte retrieval in women undergoing IVF.

3.Lowers sex drive
BPA increases the risk of reduced sexual desire, erectile difficulty, ejaculation difficulty and reduced satisfaction with sex life in men.

4.Birth defects
BPA has been linked to poor genital development in baby boys born to mothers exposed to high levels of BPA.

5.Heart disease
BPA increases the risk of myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease.

6.Obesity
BPA accelerates fat-cell differentiation, disrupt pancreatic functioning, and causes insulin resistance, leading to obesity.

No Safe Levels of BPA


Given all of the negative effects seen from BPA exposure, what does this mean for the average consumer? Can we get away with a little exposure here and there? BPA expert Laura N. Vandenberg, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow of regenerative biology at Tufts University, says no, we cannot. She states that there are no safe levels of BPA due to how it affects hormone function in the body. At low doses BPA can actually be more harmful than at high doses (Vandenberg, 2012), and unfortunately, over 90% of Americans have relatively low doses of BPA in their bodies (Bienkowski, 2014). Therefore, in order to avoid BPA exposure it is imperative that consumers are knowledgeable of how their food is processed and packaged-information that Tellspec is proud to offer.

4 replies
  1. Michael Grant
    Michael Grant says:

    I was wondering if you can also identify pesticides, fungicides, and/or herbicides? Can I use it to tell if a product is truly organic as labeled? Having this capability is something that I would use this product for all the time.

    Reply
    • TellSpec Staff
      TellSpec Staff says:

      Pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides are often found in extremely low concentrations such as part per billion and parts per million. So spectroscopy database libraries of foods would have to be very mature and large to find such low concentrations for the scanner to get any usable relevant information. We are exploring the addition of specific target variables into the food database and spectral library such as those mentioned. But these are for the far future and certainly not for the first generation food scanner. Perhaps after the food database has matured for many years worldwide with many many global users compiling food data on various pesticide variables across various food groups. The nature of the learning algorithm is that , generally speaking, it gets more and more accurate with better data. But we do not have the ability now to identify these things. Whether a food product is organic or not is also not possible at this time. That is a completely different focus. But we understand the interest. Thank you for your support.

      Reply

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