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Five ways to reduce your exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)

The average American is exposed to a range of natural and synthetic chemicals called Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, or EDCs, which are known to have serious health risks and may contribute to the increase of obesity in America.

University of California Irvine biologist Bruce Blumberg is studying the link between EDCs and obesity. Blumberg is one of many researchers studying how chemicals used in plastics, food packaging, pesticides and cosmetics can trigger dramatic increases in body fat.

Scientists are even called these chemicals “obesogens” because of the way they alter metabolism and the body’s ability to regulate and control weight gain.

There are a number of ways to reduce exposure to EDCs. Five of the most common ways include the following:

1. Avoid plastic food containers. Studies indicate that nearly 93 percent of Americans have detectables levels of bisphenol-A (BPA) and 75 percent have detectable levels of pthalates. Say no to bottled water and never heat food in plastic containers. Also avoid buying meats, cheese and other fatty foods wrapped in plastic. Many canned foods also contain BPA, so choose reliable companies whose products do not contain BPA.

2. Buy organic produce when possible. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) calculated that nearly 80 percent of our pesticide exposure comes from the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables that contain highest levels of pesticides. These include: celery, peaches, strawberries, applies, nectarines, blueberries, sweet bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes and imported grapes. Buy these foods organic to significantly reduce EDC exposure.

3. Choose pasture-raised animal protein. Most commercially grown animals are fed weight-promoting hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals to fatten them up. Animal-based products include meat, poultry, eggs and all dairy products. Grass-fed animals also have less fat than grain-fed animals that are confined indoors. Of course, the best solution is simply to go vegan.

4. Choose leaner and smaller fish. Even though DDT was banned in 1973, the chemical is still being found in the larger fatty fish today, along with other dangerous chemicals such as mercury and PCBs. Smaller fish such as anchovies, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, herring and mackerel tend to carry a lower toxic load. Avoid larger fish such as shark, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy and large tuna.

5. Drink contaminant-free water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), virtually all forms of tap and bottled water contain at least some level of chemical contaminants. Thus, the best way to reduce exposure to EDCs in your drinking water is to choose a home water filter, available in many different water filter types to suit your budget and filtration preferences. Activated carbon block water filters will remove most EDCs.


UC Irvine Feature: Obesogens


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