When it comes to taking care of your health, you know to eat a nutrient-dense diet, start (or stick with) an effective exercise routine, and get a good night’s sleep.
Now, you might not check each item off your list every single day.
But you can see the foods you’re putting in your body and the way they make you feel … you can see yourself in the mirror lifting a barbell and the resulting body transformation … and you can tell every morning whether you went to bed at the appropriate time and got a restful sleep.
In other words, you know that these are all variables in your lifestyle that are easily controllable … and they produce noticeable results.
Unfortunately, there are much-more-difficult factors to control. And those are ones not right in front of your eyes. Hidden dangers that don’t display an immediate threat … but that slowly destroy your body over time.
In the U.S., low-level but daily exposure to invisible, hazardous chemicals is wreaking havoc on the health of Americans.
I’m not talking about spending time at toxic waste sites or handling clearly unsafe materials. Rather, it’s ingredients found in everyday items like plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides that are impacting our health every single day.
And not just our health … but our pocketbooks as well.
The financial impact from exposure to these chemicals can be staggering.
A detailed economic analysis by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center shows annual healthcare costs and lost earnings in the U.S. from these chemicals are now over $340 billion.
That’s more than 2.3% of the country’s GDP.
Here are some chemicals that you need to be aware of, as they disrupt your body’s endocrine system (which is responsible for regulating your hormones):
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
We’ll get to those in just a moment, including where you can find them and the risks they pose to your endocrine system — which influences almost every cell, organ and function your body.
The endocrine system is a collection of glands. It serves as the master regulator of your mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, and sexual function and reproductive processes.
|Credit: Image courtesy of NYU Langone Medical Center|
Getting back to how those chemicals affect the body, the NYU Langone study revealed some pretty alarming statistics.
Yearly exposure to highly toxic, fire-resisting PBDE chemicals and pesticides accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total endocrine-disrupting chemical disease burden …
And mostly from neurological damage these chemicals cause in the unborn.
The Chemicals Aren’t
Easy to Avoid …
Bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly used to line tin food cans like fish, vegetables and soup.
Phthalates are used to make plastic food containers and various cosmetic products.
Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-like polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDE, are found in flame retardants in furniture and packaging.
The researchers included the chemicals chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates. These dangerous insecticides are said to have neurotoxic effects — in other words, they can inhibit the neurons in our brains from functioning properly.
PCBs and PDBEs are also classified as neurotoxins.
Related story: Fluoride Classified as a Neurotoxin
The damage can be staggering …
Annual PBDE exposure was estimated to account for:
11 million lost IQ points in children,
An additional 43,000 cases of "intellectual disability," and
An associated disease burden of some $266 billion.
Meanwhile, pesticide exposure was estimated to:
Cost 1.8 million lost IQ points,
Lead to 7,500 more disability cases each year, and
Result in total health costs of $44.7 billion.
But even as the damage and dollar amounts rise, there are some ways you can buy yourself some peace of mind.
‘Safe & Simple’ Steps to
Avoid Chemical Poisoning
Senior study investigator Teresa M. Attina, M.D., Ph.D., also of NYU Langone, says there are "safe and simple" steps families can take to limit exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
These include not microwaving food in plastic containers or covered by plastic wrap, and washing plastic food containers by hand instead of putting them in the dishwasher.
She says people can also avoid using plastic containers labeled on the bottom with the numbers 3, 6 or 7 inside the recycle symbol, in which chemicals such as phthalates are used. (See the symbols, and what they mean, here.)
Switching to all-natural or fragrance-free cosmetics is also an option.
Have you and your family already taken steps to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals found in everyday products?
Are you now considering checking what’s in the products you are currently using?
Either way, we would like to know your view of this issue by leaving a comment in the comment section below.
Happy and healthy investing,