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Common Chemicals Harming Your Thyroid

Common Chemicals Harming Your Thyroid

common chemicals harming your thyroid
©️ @felipepelaquim on Pexels

Learn about common chemicals typically found around the house that you didn’t know were harming your thyroid.

The thyroid is a small gland found at the base of your neck, and it is responsible for balancing the hormones that control your bodily functions. 

These hormones are responsible for managing our body’s metabolism, which impacts how virtually every cell and organ in our body uses energy and operates. As such, chemicals that interfere with the production and function of these hormones can have far reaching effects on our overall health.

This article will cover the following topics:

  • What are endocrine disruptors?
  • How do they impact thyroid and overall health?
  • 5 common chemicals that are endocrine disruptors

What are endocrine disruptors?

Endocrine receptors are chemicals found in both organic and inorganic products which disrupt your body’s thyroid function. You may be exposed to these chemicals in your food, dishware, cosmetic products and household cleaning products. 

Because of their proven detriments to health, many national regulations exist to minimize their presence in commercial products you use on a daily basis. However, this does not preclude instances in which you may encounter these chemicals through your environment.

How do endocrine disruptors affect thyroid and overall health?

Research shows that individuals who are exposed to endocrine disruptors, like living in proximity to petrochemical plants, have an increased risk of developing thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. 

Endocrine receptors can impact your health by:

  • Reduced production of thyroid hormones → Studies have demonstrated exposure to endocrine disruptors in your environment as well as your diet can lead to reductions in serum thyroxine levels. In other words, exposure to these chemicals can reduce your thyroid’s ability to make important hormones. 
  • Binding thyroid hormone receptors → Our body’s cells interpret signals from the thyroid by binding hormones like thyroxine on cell-surface proteins that act as receptors. After binding hormones, these proteins transduce, or propagate, the signal into the inside of the cell where chemical reactions like energy consumption take place. Endocrine receptors bind these receptors and block hormones from making this attachment needed to affect cellular change.
  • Mimic hormone signals inappropriately →  As some of these endocrine disruptors are similar in structure to thyroid hormones, they can actually bind to hormone receptors on our body’s cells and initiate a hormonal response at inappropriate times.

5 common chemicals that are endocrine disruptors

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical component of many plastic containers, specifically those made from polycarbonate. It is used to give containers their structure, but its use has been dropping steadily over recent years as research shows that it is a potent endocrine disruptor. 

Because of this, you may see tags on water bottles advertising their ‘BPA-free’ status, but you may not be aware that it is also a component of epoxy resins and can be found in other types of plastic food containers as well as water pipes. 

You may not be able to completely cut off all sources of BPA in your environment, but a great way to minimize ingesting it through contact with your food and drink is to look for and only buy BPA-free plastic, or even glass containers. 

 

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals like aluminum, cadmium, lead and mercury disrupt thyroid hormone production by preventing the uptake of iodine. It is critical for producing the thyroid’s main hormonal products: thyroxine (T4), a biologically inactive hormone that is converted into triiodothyronine (T3), the active form. 

By interfering with the use of iodine in our bodies, heavy metals can lower our serum thyroxine levels, which can be detrimental to our body’s metabolism. This consequence is especially detrimental for individuals with hypothyroidism, as their bodies already underproduce this necessary hormone. 

Unfortunately, heavy metals are ubiquitous in our daily lives; you can find them in commonly encountered objects like in cooking foils, deodorants, cheap jewelry and batteries, to name a few. Some things you could do to eliminate these sources include:

  • Using natural deodorants that do not contain aluminum
  • Throwing away your batteries at designated disposal sites
  • Avoiding lead-containing jewelry, opting instead for silver, gold or stainless steel
  • Avoiding cookware like tinfoil (which is actually made of aluminum)

 

Herbicides/Pesticides

Because a majority of produce sold in grocery stores has to be transported across great distances and stay fresh from farm to table, our vegetables and fruits are often treated with herbicides and pesticides, as well as other chemical preservatives. 

Not only are these chemicals associated with adverse effects on cardiovascular and neurological health, but they can also interfere with thyroid hormone production in ways that may have intergenerational effects.

To mitigate these risks, consider buying organic, non-pesticide treated fruits/vegetables and wash your produce thoroughly to remove any preservatives that may be sprayed on to them.

 

Flame Retardants

Flame retardants used on fabrics such as clothes, furniture and rugs contain halogens like bromine, which is an endocrine disruptor that mimics thyroid hormone and binds competitively with its receptors on body cells.

These halogens can also be found in household cleaning chemicals, pools (as chlorine) and in some foods as well. 

 

Fluoride

A halogen that deserves a special mention is fluoride. You may be familiar with its presence in your toothpaste as it is an anti-cavity compound, but some municipalities also add it to their water for this specific reason. 

Studies show that moderate fluoride exposure can affect thyroid hormone output. One way you can avoid this outcome is by using filters for your drinking water, as well as on your shower to avoid the chemical when bathing.

Key Takeaways

  • The thyroid is a small gland found at the base of your neck, and it is responsible for balancing the hormones that control your bodily functions.
  • Endocrine receptors are chemicals found in both organic and inorganic products which disrupt your body’s thyroid function. 
  • You may be exposed to these chemicals in your food, dishware, cosmetic products and household cleaning products. 
  • Endocrine disruptors can affect overall health by reducing the production of thyroid hormones, binding thyroid hormone receptors and mimicking hormonal signals inappropriately.
  • Some endocrine disruptors include BPA, heavy metals, herbicides/pesticides, flame retardants and fluoride. 
  • Some ways in which you can avoid these chemicals is to use organic produce, avoid plastic and aluminum food containers and use water filters.

By helping you track your diet, your medications as well as your symptoms, the ThyForLife app can assist you in managing your thyroid condition and understanding how your lifestyle impacts your health.

FAQs

Chemicals commonly found in everyday products can disrupt thyroid function by interfering with hormone production and regulation. These chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors, can mimic or block thyroid hormones, leading to imbalances that contribute to thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

The article highlights several chemicals known to impact thyroid health, including bisphenol-A (BPA), found in plastics and food packaging; perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), used in non-stick coatings and water-resistant materials; and phthalates, commonly found in personal care products, fragrances, and plastics.

We suggest taking proactive measures to minimize exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as opting for BPA-free plastics, using glass or stainless steel containers for food storage, avoiding non-stick cookware, and choosing natural personal care products free of phthalates and other harmful additives.

Yes, exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can have broader health implications beyond thyroid dysfunction. These chemicals have been linked to various health concerns, including reproductive issues, developmental abnormalities, and an increased risk of certain cancers. Minimizing exposure to these chemicals is essential for overall well-being, not just thyroid health.

Disclaimer

At ThyForLife, we do our utmost to provide accurate information. For detailed medical information regarding diagnosis, treatment, and general practices please consult your healthcare professional. Always listen to the advice of your healthcare provider.
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