“Rebecca is a 5 yr old girl who has gained 20 lbs in one year and is referred to us for premature breast development. An MRI of her head rules out a brain tumor. A pituitary evaluation to look for onset of puberty is unrevealing and tests show no estrogen in the blood. A more detailed history reveals Rebecca's mother has recently taken to bathing her daughter in Victoria Secret's bath gel. The assumption is that the bath gel contains plant estrogen. The mother is counseled to stop the bath gel and subsequently Rebecca's weight gain and breast development cease.”
(Excerpt from the book Fat Chance , Chapter 15 Environmental Obesogens)
What is an Obesogen?
Chemicals that have been found to disrupt the endocrine system and promote weight gain and obesity are called obesogens.
How do Obesogens Promote Weight Gain?
Obesogens can both increase the number of fat cells in the body as well as promote fat storage. They can also alter metabolism in favor of storing calories as opposed to burning them. Obesogens also affect the hormones responsible for appetite and satiety.
What are Common Types of Obesogens?
Endocrine disruptors known as estrogen mimickers are obesogens found in plastics, pesticides, personal care products as well as our food and water supply. The big four are BPA which is found in plastic, parabens found in personal care products, genistein a soy and alfalfa estrogen and pesticides. Obesogens are also found in things like cigarette smoke, air pollution as well as air fresheners and cleaning products.
Ways to Reduce your Exposure Obesogens?
- Avoid plastic as much as possible, especially when it comes to food storage. Use glass. Ditch plastic water bottles in favor of glass or stainless steel. And do not cook in plastic!
- Look at the labels on all personal care products and discard any that contain parabens. Names to look for include butylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben and popylparaben. Check out the Skin Deep Database to find out what's in your cosmetics.
- Eliminate soy from your diet as much as possible.
- Eat organic to avoid unnecessary exposure to pesticides.
- Avoid second-hand smoke and air pollution, ditch air fresheners and use chemical-free cleaning products — this is the only one I use.
To learn more about the estrogen connection and breast cancer, check out this link: Breast Cancer, the Estrogen Connection, Cosmetics and More. Special thanks to Kelly, one of the Healthy Living How To Facebook friends for sharing this resource!