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Hidden Hormone Disruptors - Xenoestrogens

Reducing Xenoestrogens (hormone disruptors) in Your Life

What are xenoestrogens?

Many of us don’t think twice about the makeup we wear each day or the plastic container we use to pack our lunch, the deodorant we roll on, the shampoo and conditioner for our hair, and the fragrances we spray onto our body.

Unfortunately, these things may be altering the way your body naturally functions because they all contain hormone disrupting chemicals, called xenoestrogens.

Hormone, (or endocrine), disruptors are a category of chemicals that alter the normal function of hormones.

Normally, your endocrine system releases hormones to different tissues in your body, giving out instructions.

When disrupting chemicals from the outside get into your body, they can mimic your natural hormones, and blocking or binding your hormone receptors.

This is particularly bad for your hormone sensitive organs, like the uterus and the breast, the immune and neurological systems, as well as human development.

Xenoestrogens are a sub-category of the endocrine disruptor group that specifically have oestrogen-like effects.

Oestrogen is a natural hormone in humans that is important for bone growth, blood clotting and reproduction in men and women.

The body regulates the amount needed through intricate biochemical pathways.

When xenoestrogens enter the body, they increase the total amount of oestrogen resulting in a phenomenon called oestrogen dominance.

Xenoestrogens are not biodegradable.  They are stored in your fat cells.

Too many stored xenoestrogens have been linked to conditions including breast, prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes.

Below is a list of some of the sources of xenoestrogens, but it is by no means exhaustive.

We are constantly exposed to these substances in the world we live in.

Examples of everyday items that may include xenoestrogens are fruits and vegetables sprayed with pesticides, plastic water bottles and Tupperware, nail polish, makeup, birth control pill and on and on.

Here are some of the chemicals that are xenoestrogens:

  • Skincare:

    • 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) (sunscreen lotions)

    • Parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben commonly used as a preservative)

    • Benzophenone (sunscreen lotions)

  • Industrial products and Plastics:

    • Bisphenol A (monomer for polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin; antioxidant in plasticizers)

    • Phthalates (plasticizers)

    • DEHP (plasticizer for PVC)

    • Polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs) (flame retardants used in plastics, foams, building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles).

    • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

  • Food:

    • Erythrosine / FD&C Red No. 3

    • Phenosulfothiazine (a red dye)

    • Butylated hydroxyanisole / BHA (food preservative)

  • Building supplies:

    • Pentachlorophenol (general biocide and wood preservative)

    • Polychlorinated biphenyls / PCBs (in electrical oils, lubricants, adhesives, paints)

  • Insecticides:

    • Atrazine (weed killer)

    • DDT (insecticide, banned)

    • Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (one of the breakdown products of DDT)

    • Dieldrin (insecticide)

    • Endosulfan (insecticide)

    • Heptachlor (insecticide)

    • Lindane / hexachlorocyclohexane (insecticide, used to treat lice and scabies)

    • Methoxychlor (insecticide)

    • Fenthion

    • Nonylphenol and derivatives (industrial surfactants; emulsifiers for emulsion polymerization; laboratory detergents; pesticides)

    • Other:

      • Propyl gallate

  • Chlorine and chlorine by-products

1.   Ethinylestradiol (combined oral contraceptive pill)

2.   Metalloestrogens (a class of inorganic xenoestrogens)

3.   Alkylphenol (surfactant used in cleaning detergents

So what can you do to avoid these common chemicals?

The following list was adapted from the organic excellence website.

Guidelines to minimise your personal exposure to xenoestrogens:



  • Avoid all pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.

  • Choose organic, locally grown and in-season foods.

  • Peel non-organic fruits and vegetables.

  • Buy hormone-free meats and dairy products to avoid hormones and pesticides.



  • Reduce the use of plastics whenever possible.

  • Do not microwave food in plastic containers.

  • Avoid the use of plastic wrap to cover food for storing or microwaving.

  • Use glass or ceramics whenever possible to store food.

  • Do not leave plastic containers, especially your drinking water, in the sun.

  • If a plastic water container has heated up significantly, throw it away.

  • Don’t refill plastic water bottles.

  • Avoid freezing water in plastic bottles to drink later.

Household Products

  • Use chemical free, biodegradable laundry and household cleaning products.

  • Choose chlorine-free products and unbleached paper products (i.e. tampons, menstrual pads, toilet paper, paper towel, coffee filters).

  • Use a chlorine filter on shower heads and filter drinking water


Health and Beauty Products

  • Avoid creams and cosmetics that have toxic chemicals and estrogenic ingredients such as parabens and stearalkonium chloride.

  • Minimize your exposure to nail polish and nail polish removers.

  • Use naturally based fragrances, such as essential oils.

  • Use chemical free soaps and toothpastes.

  • Read the labels on condoms and diaphragm gels.

At the Office

  • Be aware of noxious gas such as from copiers and printers, carpets, fiberboards, and at the gas pump.

Reducing xenoestrogens in your life will have a positive effect on your hormones and on your overall health.

Start by going through the list and replacing what you can with natural organic products.

You don’t have to do it all at once, but slowly start to make changes.