How many of you use hairspray, shampoo, makeup or plastic on a regular basis? Looks like just about everybody, eh? Unfortunately, recent research out of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows a distinct correlation between some of the common chemicals found in these products and early onset menopause. Researchers were able to identify, “nine PCBs, three pesticides, two phthalates and a furan (a toxic chemical)” that are associated with early menopause.
Common Household Chemicals Can Cause Menopause to Begin Early
If you have tried to get pregnant in the last five years or so, odds are this information won’t come as a complete shock. Experts have linked chemicals known as “endocrine disruptors” (chemicals that affect human hormone production) with infertility. In fact, many of these chemicals are considered possible culprits for the widespread decrease in male sperm count as well.
Infertility aside, these PCBs, pesticides, phthalates and furan (often found in heat-treated foods like roasted coffee, instant coffee and baby food!!!) have now been linked to an earlier decline in ovarian function, which begins the onset of menopause.
Researchers studied the urine and blood of more than 31,500 people, including 1442 menopausal women, for nine years. They analyzed 111 chemicals that were found in their urine and blood samples. The chemicals listed above were not just associated with early onset menopause, they were heavily associated with it. Researchers found that more concentrated levels of the offending chemicals started menopause as much as four years earlier than average.
What’s So Bad About Starting Menopause Early, Anyway?
For women who are done having children, this might not seem like such a big deal. However, fertility isn’t the only thing affected by menopause. Once your estrogen and progesterone levels begin to decline, your risk for medical conditions, like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis go up. The later you can prolong pre-menopausal hormone levels, the better it is for your body.
It’s virtually impossible to avoid ingesting or inhaling these toxins since they are present in the water, soil and air. However, there are things you can do to minimize your exposure as much as possible:
- Eat organic and pesticide-free foods. Several of the most prolific pesticides and herbicides are known endocrine disruptors. Eating food products with an organic or pesticide/hormone-free label is a good place to start. If you eat meat, try to purchase meat products made from animals that are fed organic and pesticide-free foods.
- Read the labels on health and beauty care products. Try to use health and beauty care products that advertise they are paraben (a cancer-causing agent) and phthalate-free. Odds are that companies who strive to remove those known toxins from their ingredient lists are avoiding the other culprits as well.
- Eliminate plastic. Try to eliminate plastic wherever you can, especially when it comes to food storage and water/beverage containers.
- Do not microwave plastic. Do not microwave food or drinks in plastic containers, or with cling wrap-type films. Even if they say they are “microwave safe,” it is better to err on the side of caution. Glass or microwave-safe ceramics are a much healthier option.
- Read the labels on cleaning products. Try to use household cleaning products made by eco-conscious manufacturers. Don’t forget the power of water, vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice – they have been used in various combinations to clean homes for centuries – and none of them cause infertility or early onset menopause!
The good news is that in addition to potentially saving you from starting menopause too early, all of these changes make for a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.
Are you experiencing menopause symptoms a little early? Schedule an appointment with Women’s Health Associates so we can devise a treatment plan that works for you and your lifestyle.