The 7 Deadly Estro-Sins: Cut Through The 'BS' & Learn The 'FACTS' About Xenoestrogens

When you first start learning about xenoestrogens it can all be quite overwhelming. So we've come up with a way to cut through the BS and understand the FACTS about xenoestrogens and your health. Just remember the easy acronym – BSFACTS – and you'll have a handle on the major sources of environmental estrogens and can begin avoiding them today!

B – Bubbles

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a potential carcinogenic chemical found in most shampoos, body washes, shaving formulas, toothpastes and bubble baths. Due to its effectiveness in removing oil and dirt residue from multiple surfaces, SLS is used in industrial products including engine degreasers, floor cleaners and car wash formulations. 1,4-Dioxane, a possible carcinogen, is many times found in SLS.

Chemicals such as SLS may have estrogenic effects on wildlife. Scientists that study xenoestrogens, regard them as a serious environmental hazard. Scientists from UBCO found that estrogenic compounds mimic female hormones in male fish and produce intersexed fish in Okanagan water.

Avoid sodium lauryl sulfate by choosing products that lather and foam less. The addition of SLS significantly reduces the surface tension of water which creates more stable bubbles, giving sodium lauryl sulfate foam a longer life span. Natural soap creates bubbles but not excessive foam. Choose a soap that provides a nice lather and a gentle clean while avoiding products that create a never-ending type of foam. SLS will also be identifiable on the ingredient deck as sodium lauryl sulfate and/or one of its derivatives.

S – Scents

Phthalates act as a fixative (make scents long lasting) in perfumes and fragrances and are known chemical hormone disruptors. Phthalates are plastic softeners used to soften your cars vinyl dashboard and/or your plastic shower curtain. As phthalates soften plastic they also soften your hair and skin. Cosmetic companies use phthalates in hair conditioners and lotions to help your hair and skin retain a 'soft' look and feel. Phthalates are a class of chemicals which are known as endocrine disruptors (xenoestrogens or environmental estrogens), and have been linked to birth defects, reproductive problems, lower sperm count, and estrogen dependent cancers.

In 1998 and 2011 the Canadian Government placed a voluntary ban on 6 phthalates in children's toys. This ban was based upon studies that suggest phthalates are hazardous to the reproductive and developmental health of children who handled or chewed on phthalate-softened toys. These studies also linked phthalates to liver and kidney failure in young children. They didn't, however, place this ban on personal care products that use the same endocrine disrupting phthalates in their formulations.

 Avoid phthalates by:

  • Avoiding products where the scent lasts longer than 15 minutes. Pure essential oils dissipate quickly, while synthetic scents last longer. If a scent lasts longer than 15 minutes, it will likely contain phthalates.
  • Phthalates can be hidden under the umbrella of 'fragrance', 'aroma', 'perfume/parfum', 'cologne', or 'scent'. Legally, perfume companies don't have to disclose their proprietary blend of ingredients, which may contain toxic substances, including phthalates. Purchase products that utilize only 100% pure essential oils.
  • Checking labels for 'Phth' and abbreviations starting with 'D' - Look for the 'Phth'. It’s a dead giveaway that your product contains a phthalate. If the ingredient label has an abbreviation such as DEHP, DIDP, DIP and DINP, it's just another way that companies try to “soften” the chemical names of phthalates.
  • Choosing real oils over plastic ones. If it feels like plastic, it most likely is plastic. For example, if your hair conditioner leaves your hair coated with a waxy plastic substance, it’s most likely because it contains phthalates. Look for products that list real oils like olive oil, coconut oil, or Shea and cocoa butter. They're less likely to contain plasticizers.

F – Fire Retardant

One of the main fire retardants used in our homes is called tetra bromo bisphenol A (TBBPA) which is a form of BPA. TBBPA is found in children’s sleep wear. Even though the Canadian Government requires fire retardants to be listed on the label of some children’s pajamas many synthetic fibers are infused with fire retardants before they are made into pajamas.

Fire retardants can't adhere to cotton or natural fabric so choose cotton or clothing with natural fibers. Another tip is to learn to utilize the 'sniff test'. If it smells like a chemical, it probably is a chemical. And if the tag reads 100% polyester then assume it is a xenoestrogen fire retardant infused item.

A – Antibacterial Products

Triclosan is a common antibacterial agent used in many antiperspirants and deodorants, hand sanitizers, dish soaps, laundry detergents, toothpastes, clothing, baby teething rings, and consumer products. Triclosan was first registered as a pesticide in 1969, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is a close relative to the chemicals Agent Orange, PCBs and dioxins. Environment Canada has cautioned the Canadian public about over use of antibacterial products containing Triclosan. Environment Canada is requesting that further studies be conducted on Triclosan due to its "high inherent toxicity to a variety of aquatic organisms…Triclosan may also interfere with the action of thyroid hormones in amphibians at environmentally relevant concentrations."

The Canadian government requires all antibacterial products to have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the label.  Avoid antibacterial beauty and body products with DIN numbers in order to protect yourself and limit your exposure to yet another chemical hormone disruptor.

C – Cans

BPA is used to line the majority of canned foods. A report called No Silver Lining from The National Work Group for Safe Markets, confirms the presence of BPA in canned goods. Researchers tested food from 50 cans for BPA contamination and found it in 46 cans (92 percent of samples). Studies are showing that very small amounts of BPA can cause major disruptions in the reproductive systems of many different species.

Avoid exposure to BPA by choosing glass or tetra pack foods instead of tin or aluminum canned goods.

T – Three & Seven (Plastic bottles)

The bottom of most plastic containers has a triangle with a number inside it. This is the recycle symbol that tells you what type of plastic your bottle is made from. BPA is found in hard plastics labeled #7. Be careful of hard plastics labeled 'BPA Free' as they can often contain BPS which is just as estrogenic as BPA. Unfortunately BPS can be more toxic than BPA because it takes years for your body to detoxify, unlike BPA, which is eliminated from your body in only a few weeks.

Phthalates are found in soft plastics labeled #3. Threes are made from PVC or polyvinyl chloride and contain estrogen mimicking phthalates.

Choose plastics that don't contain a #7 (BPA) or a #3 (phthalates).

S – SPF

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) or sunscreen can be found in baby lotion, make-up, face cream and in products meant to protect you from the sun. Most sunscreens contain estrogenic ingredients such as benzophenone-3 (BP-3; oxybenzone), octyl dimethyl PABA (p-aminobenzoic acid), octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate), homosalate, parabens (methyl-, ethyl-, butyl-, propyl-), and titanium dioxide. National Geographic warns that sunscreen washing off swimmers is threatening coral reefs  and many tropical areas of the world like Hawaii have banned the use of sunscreen when embarking on snorkling tours.

Protect yourself from the sun and xenoestrogens by:

  • Building up a base tan gradually so you won't burn. This also helps build up your body's stores of vitamin D and fumaric acid.
  • When you need to use a sunscreen, choose a non-nano sized zinc oxide based sunscreen or an oil based sun oil that integrates the use of carrot tissue oil and raspberry oil.
  • Eat a diet that is rich in antioxidant fruits and vegetables.
  • Use common sense. If your skin is going to burn, cover up or find some shade.

Remember the BSFACTS

Now that you're aware of the potential harm of xenoestrogens and equipped to combat them, share this information with your friends and family. Educating others will help you to memorize 'The 7 Deadly Estro-Sins' acronym. Use the BSFACTS and you'll be well on your way to eliminating up to 70% of environmental estrogens in your everyday life. Your endocrine system will thank you!