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Understanding PCOS & Endocrine disruptors

Over the last few weeks, we've discussed the main causes of PCOS. These are hormone imbalance, insulin resistance, gut imbalance and inflammation. There are other things that impact PCOS & make the symptoms worse, and one of these can be found right in your kitchen cabinet. Here is a list on our website of kitchen items that are endocrine disruptor free.

Endocrine disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals found in a range of kitchen items such as plastic food containers, aluminium foil, plastic wrap, drinking water and non-stick pans, to name a few. They can also be found in the fragrances in your shampoos, conditioners, and beauty products, and even in baby toys.

Endocrine disruptors can mimic hormones, increase or decrease production of different hormones, interfere with hormone signalling, kill cells prematurely and compete with essential nutrients. Since they disrupt the endocrine system, they cause inflammation in the body, affecting the thyroid and overall hormone production.

These chemicals can severely impact the hormones in our body, and those with PCOS already face issues with hormone imbalance. Endocrine disruptors can severely exacerbate PCOS symptoms by messing around with the hormones in the body.

The main endocrine disruptors

The Environmental Working Group has released a Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors list.


BPA has been linked to everything from breast and other cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease.

BPA can be found in many plastics, so make sure to opt for BPA-free plastic containers and bottles.


Dioxin can permanently affect sperm quality and lower sperm count in boys in their prime reproductive years if a pregnant woman is exposed to it. They are powerful carcinogens and can also affect the immune and reproductive systems.

They are found in animal products like meat, eggs and milk, so they are harder to avoid. Cutting down on animal products where possible is best to avoid Dioxin!

Atrazine, Perchlorate, Arsenic and Lead

Atrazine is a drinking water contaminant. It has been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate inflammation in animals, and some research has linked it to prostate cancer in people. Drinking water also contains perchlorate, which competes with iodine. This impacts the thyroid, affecting your hormone balance. Arsenic and lead can be found in drinking water too!

Purchasing a water filter that is made to remove atrazine, perchlorate, arsenic and lead is advised!


Phthalates have been linked to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities.

Avoid plastic food containers, and check children toy labels. Avoid plastic wrap made from PVC. Check your beauty products - if they say the word 'fragrance' only, avoid them as it's a hidden word for Phthalates.


Mercury can be found in contaminated seafood. Pregnant women are the most at risk from the toxic effects of mercury, as it can interfere with fetal brain development. Mercury is also known to bind directly to one particular hormone that regulates women’s menstrual cycle and ovulation.

Ensure you are purchasing wild salmon and farmed trout in order to avoid contaminated fish.


PFOA exposure has been linked to decreased sperm quality, low birth weight, kidney disease, thyroid disease and high cholesterol, among other health issues. Scientists are still figuring out how PFOA affects the human body, but animal studies have found that it can affect thyroid and sex hormone levels.

PFOA is found in non-stick cookware like non-stick pans. Opt for stainless steel instead.


Organophosphate has been proven to impact brain development, behavior and fertility. Despite this, they are still among the more common pesticides in use today. Organophosphates can also interfere with the way testosterone communicates with cells, lowers testosterone and alters thyroid hormone levels.

Purchasing organic products is the best way to avoid this pesticide. Look at the EWG's dirty dozen list for more info!

Glycol Ethers

Glycol ethers are common solvents in paints, cleaning products, brake fluid and cosmetics. These can damage fertility or the fetus, and children exposed to glycol ethers from paint have a higher chance of developing asthma and allergies.

Avoid paint and cleaning products with ingredients such as 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME).

Bottom line

Completely avoiding endocrine disruptors is difficult, as they are found in a lot of our day-to-day items. However, being aware of where they are found and purchasing products without these chemicals is the best way to avoid them.

If you feel like you need some guidance, get in touch! We work with clients to create plans for PCOS that are tailored to you so it can fit in with your lifestyle. Click the button below to be redirected to our plans made specifically for PCOS & work with us!

Over on our Instagram, we have a number of easy to digest infographics (if you're more of a visual learner!), so click here to go to our page, @lorrainekearneynutrition!

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Phone: (212) 328-0195

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