Fifty-Two is the average age of menopause. If a woman is thrust into menopause early, she can can experience a host of related health problems, including bone loss. Some cases of early menopause may be linked to the presence of endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption.
At the end of this article you will find a link to the Dirty Dozen endocrine disruptors that was put together by the Environmental Working Group.
A study by the West Virginia school of medicine included 26,000 women age 18-65. The study was designed to evaluate the blood level of perfluorocarbons (PFCs). PFCs are man-made chemicals found in many household products such as food containers and stain-resistant clothing as well as in water, soil, and plants.
Previous animal research has shown that PFCs are endocrine disrupting chemicals that impact some forms of cancer, increasing growth. The West Virginia study looked at two PFCs, called PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoate).
What researchers found:
The higher the perfluorocarbons, the earlier the menopause. Women with the highest blood levels of the PFCs were more likely to experience an early menopause than those with the lowest levels. PFOS reduces the hormone estradiol, which is naturally produced by the ovaries. As estradiol declines, menopause approaches.
How can we avoid PFCs and PFOAs?
Limit the use of stain-resistant, water-resistant, and fire-retardant products. Some food containers may also have PFCs.
PFOA is a chemical used in the manufacture of non-stick pans (Teflon). To avoid, use steel, iron or ceramic non-stick alternatives.
Here is what the EPA says regarding Teflon:
"Consumer products made with fluoropolymers and fluorinated telomers, such as Teflon and other trademark products, are not PFOA. PFOA is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers and can be also be produced by the breakdown of some fluorinated telomers. The information that EPA has available does not indicate that the routine use of consumer products poses a concern. At present, the EPA does not recommend any steps for consumers to take to reduce exposures to PFOA."
On another note – because birds are very sensitive to fumes released by non-stick cookware, some organizations of pet bird owners recommend minimizing a bird's exposure to these fumes by keeping pet birds out of the kitchen or by increasing ventilation if non-stick cookware is used.
I don’t know about you, but if birds are sensitive to it, I think it is wise for humans to avoid Teflon, too.
The Environmental Working Group has put together Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disrupting chemicals to avoid. To view the Dirty Dozen Click here.
Implications of early menopause in women exposed to perfluorocarbons. - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Perfluorocarbon exposure, gender and thyroid function- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Environmental Working Group -http://www.ewg.org/
National Institute of Health - http://www.niehs.nih.gov/
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