Made of plastic: Not so fantastic
This past Sunday I attended a North Shore community meeting in which the Kokua Hawai’i Foundation educated and discussed the impacts of single use plastic on the Hawaii and the rest of the world. It is not an easy problem to solve but they are implementing solutions.
These same plastics that are persistent in our environment and have an equally negative impact on our health. Almost all plastic leaches chemicals into our water, our food, our products that we apply to our skin, and products we use in the household. We are surrounded by these harmful chemicals on a daily basis. These chemicals that leach from plastic into our bodies and environment have been demonstrated to have estrogenic activity. Even plastic products labeled BPA (bisphenol-A) free, actually can have MORE estrogenic activity than those plastic products that contain BPA, surprisingly. The whole point of being BPA free was to eliminate the effects of estrogenic activity in the human body from plastic!
Estrogen is a hormone that is present in males and females of all mammals, including humans. It occurs naturally in the human body and has roles related to sex characteristic formation, menarche, menstruation, menopause, fertility, sleep-wake cycles, temperature regulation, bone density, heart health, metabolism, cholesterol levels etc. With all hormones there is a delicate balance and when that becomes imbalanced we see symptoms and pathologies develop.
When something has estrogenic activity that means it mimics estrogen and/ or binds to estrogen receptors in the body. This produces a state in which there is too much estrogen activity in the body. When something exogenous has this effect it is called an endocrine disrupter. In mammals, chemicals having estrogenic activity can produce many health-related problems, such as early puberty in females, reduced sperm counts, altered functions of reproductive organs, obesity, altered sex-specific behaviors, and increased rates of some breast, ovarian, testicular, and prostate cancers. These chemicals are so harmful that they have been shown to cause genetic changes that last generations. his is quite alarming.
This also affects men. Too much plastic and estrogen can disrupt men’s hormones. It will decrease testosterone and lead to development of breasts (gynecomastia), sexual dysfunction, and infertility.
What can we do?
We have to be proactive and eliminate all forms of plastic that we can. This isn’t an easy feat because the culture we live in thrives on single use plastics which is bad for us and the environment. You can start by eliminating plastic water bottles and instead choosing a glass or metal reusable water bottle and filter your water. Next, do not store or microwave food in plastic and use glass containers instead. Buy in bulk whenever you can and use paper bags. Do not use plastic bags for groceries or anything else you buy. Buy from local farms. Make your own food instead of take out, or use your own environmentally friendly plates and utensils.
The goal is to not ingest anything that has come into contact with plastic. The next goal is to not create waste in the form of plastic so that it does not contaminate our environment. Additionally, we have to elect officials into office who care about creating regulations that support these goals.
We cannot live in a bubble and even if we could, that would probably be made of plastic too! Prevention is key. Living in a plastic world turns out, is not so fantastic as we thought.
Fortunately, we can work together to assess hormone imbalances and how much the environment is impacting you and your health. There are natural and effective ways to combat the effects of plastic on well being. Contact me today for a consultation!