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The Environmental Estrogen & Its Negative Impact


In Jan 1994, Washington Post reporter Rick Weiss published an article titled "Estrogen in Environment". It is 25 years later when I read the article. Today, there have been growing amount of studies and researches towards the negative impact appeared on human health, environment and wild life; and we could not ignore this huge influential.

We know estrogen (a.k.a. sex hormone) are hormone naturally present on female ovaries and men testicles; while female producing higher amount. They plays a crucial role in reproductive and sexual development in women during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Nonetheless, it also assists in regulating growth of skin, bones, liver and organs cardiovascular system.

So, what is environmental estrogen? Why and where it exists?  
Environmental estrogen which also known as environmental hormones, endocrine disruptors or hormone mimic in scientific terms; found in chemical substances that enter the body and mimic hormones.(1)

It is little-known fact is that the chronic effects particularly their potential to disrupt the functions of endocrine system and our hormone. 

The environmental estrogen found in synthetic chemical are mostly present in household and industrial products in our daily lives. Household product include food packaging, poly-carbonate plastic, personal care, cosmetic, cans, cleaning agents. In a news release by WHO in 2013 also stated that these substances increasing the risk of ill health. These estrogen-like substances some are occur naturally, but synthetic varieties can be found in pesticide, additive or contaminants in food.

Compare to men, women have higher chances exposed to environmental estrogen through personal care products and cosmetics. These often left on the skin to absorb after applying.

Find out what are some environmental estrogen are most likely to be found in personal care and cosmetic?

  • Parabens : Types include butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben.
  • Phthalates: Found in household cleaner, fragrance, lipstick and food packaging. It is a huge class of chemicals and several have been shown to have negative health impacts like BBzP, DnBP, DEHP, DEP, DBP, BBP..
  • Triclosan: Ingredient added to antibacterial soaps, body washes, toothpaste, and some cosmetics
  • Cylopentasiloxane (D5): Commonly used as ingredients in lubricants and sealant. It able to evaporate and dry quickly; glide easily.  Found in hair spray, antiperspirant, deodorant, waterproof mascara, hair conditioner...

Other chemical like benzophenone type, homosalate, octinoxate, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone also used in personal care and cosmetic products too.

It is important for us to be aware of the adverse effects of estrogen-like compound in our daily lives as it affects our health in long term. Estrogen loaded in our body may not easily detox through liver. 

  1. sign of estrogen dominance
  2. early puberty
  3. risk of estrogen-dependent cancer (such as breast cancer), especially in young age
  4. low sperm count lead to male infertility
  5. adverse effect on birth outcome such as intellectual disability, childhood obesity due to prenatal exposure.
  6. hair loss
  7. prostate problem
  8. weight gain
  9. depression
  10. migraine, etc. 

Fortunately, studies shown it is easy to reduce exposure by replacing personal care products with safer alternative, like paraben free,  no petroleum, phthalates, artificial dyes, synthetic fragrances. You have a choice to choose wisely.  Read the labels carefully before buying. The ingredients are listed in decreasing order by weight on personal care products.

Recommended reading:

  1. Estrogen in the environment
  2. Editorial: Estrogens from Plastic—Are We Being Exposed? 
  3. Phthalates are everywhere, and the health risks are worrying. How bad are they really?
  4. Environmental estrogen in cosmetics and personal care products. Breast cancer and toxicity.
  5. Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)
  6. Estrogen in cosmetic