12 poisons that hijack your body, wreck your hormones and cause cancer

Picture an airport runway with ten different air traffic controllers working hard to guide the comings and goings of airplanes throughout the day. These guys work together so well that plane after plane takes off and lands without a hitch.

Suddenly, ten other guys in black masks charge the runway, knock out the ten-member team, and take over. Except these masked men have their own agenda.

Things start going horribly wrong.

Now think about this happening in your body. You’d want to prevent it in any way you could, right?

The “masked men” that hijack your health

Your body’s endocrine system is a network of glands responsible for producing and secreting your hormones. Those hormones are the guys at the airport, guiding the planes. They regulate pretty much all your bodily functions: digestion, metabolism, body temperature, appetite, reproduction, blood sugar… so everything runs smoothly.

Endocrine disruptors are the masked men that come in and hijack all those functions and send them haywire. The effect on your health can be anything from unpleasant to life-threatening.

Endocrine disruptors cause hormone imbalances, mimic true hormones and block hormones from sending signals to your body. They can even trick hormones into sending signals that will harm or kill you.

Most frightening is that an increase in hormone-dependent cancers — breast, prostate and testicular — is associated with the increasing number of endocrine disruptors in the environment, according to some research

But, don’t panic yet. We know where the bad guys are hiding, and you can do a lot to avoid them.

Most endocrine disruptors are man-made chemicals and heavy metals. Here’s a dozen of them. The Environmental Working Group calls them …

The dirty dozen

1. Bisphenol A (BPA)
What it does: BPA imitates the hormone estrogen and causes breast cancer, reproductive problems, obesity and heart disease.

Where it’s hiding: The cans that your food comes in, cash register receipt paper, and plastics with a recycling label “#7”. Stop storing your food in plastics for starters.

2. Dioxin
What it does: Affects sexual development in the womb, lowers sperm count and quality, causes cancer and damages the immune system.

Where it’s hiding: EVERYWHERE! It’s a by-product of industrial manufacturing. Our food supply is full of it. Meat, fish, milk, eggs and butter are more likely to have dioxin than fruits, vegetables and grains. It’s almost impossible to escape, even in organic meats. Cut down on animal products.

3. Atrazine
What it does: In animals, it turns male frogs into egg-producing females (yes, you read that correctly), causes breast tumors and prostate inflammation. In humans, it’s been linked to prostate cancer.

Where it’s hiding: It’s widely used on corn crops as an herbicide and is pervasive in our drinking water. Use a water filter and buy organic!

4. Phthalates
What they do: Cause premature death of male testicle cells, lower sperm count, cause obesity, diabetes and thyroid malfunction

Where they’re hiding: In a word, PLASTIC. Bottles, toys, plastic wrap made from PVC (recycling label “#3”), also in fragrances in personal care products like soaps, shampoos and nail polish. Looks for products without ugly chemicals at the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

5. Perchlorate
What it does: Causes the thyroid to lose iodine, affecting metabolism in adults and brain and organ development in infants and children.

Where it’s hiding: Drinking water (use a reverse osmosis filter). Get enough iodine in your diet (iodized salt) to counteract its effects.

6. Fire retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs)
What they do: They find their way into breast milk, and are known to lower IQ, and they produce carbon monoxide when burned.

Where they’re hiding: children’s flame-retardant clothing, dust particles (use a HEPA filter at home and in your vacuum), old furniture with foam cushions and old carpet padding.

7. Lead
What it does: So much! Brain damage and cognitive delays in children, miscarriage, kidney damage, nervous system problems, high blood pressure and diabetes… just to get started.

Where it’s hiding: Old paint used in older homes, the dishes you eat on and some imported toys, as well as drinking water in many communities — not just Michigan.

8. Arsenic
What it does: Can kill you in high enough quantities, but lesser amounts cause skin, bladder and lung cancer, and disruptions in the glucocorticoid system, causing insulin resistance and diabetes, osteoporosis, stunted growth and hypertension.

Where it’s hiding: High arsenic levels have also been found in tap water, apple juice, rice and in rice products like brown rice syrup, rice flour, rice vinegar, rice bread and cereal. When it comes to arsenic exposure, white rice is safer than brown rice, according to Dr. Isaac Elias. You can read more in his post, The toxin you ate today.

9. Mercury
What it does: Damages fetal brain development, binds to hormones that regulate menstrual cycles and produce insulin, disrupting both processes

Where it’s hiding: Seafood. Avoid tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish and king mackerel. Wild salmon and farmed trout are usually free of mercury. But you don’t have to look far for mercury exposure danger, especially if you have old mercury fillings in your teeth.

10. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
What they do: Cause decreased sperm count, low birth weight, kidney and thyroid disease, and high cholesterol, to name a few

Where they’re hiding: Unfortunately, 99 percent of us have these endocrine disruptors in our body. One, in particular, PFOA, is found in non-stick Teflon pans, and stain- and water-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture and carpets. Avoid products that include the words “fluoro” or “perfluoro” on the label.

11. Organophosphate pesticides
What they do: Inhibit cholinesterase, an enzyme in the nervous system that is essential to carrying signals between nerves and muscles. Victims of organophosphate poisoning die because they can’t breathe.

Where they’re hiding: Pesticides. Buy only organic produce, and check with your town or city regarding their use of pesticides on grass in public places.

12. Glycol ethers
What they do: Rats exposed to glycol ethers end up with shrunken testicles. That’s a good indication, and the European Union agrees, that this chemical can damage fertility and the unborn. It is linked to blood abnormalities, low sperm counts, and asthma and allergies in children.

Where they’re hiding: Glycol ethers are common solvents found in paints, cleaning products, brake fluid and some cosmetics. Avoid these products by referencing EWG’s Guide to healthy cleaning.

Fighting the chemical onslaught

DIM is the answer if you’re looking to fight endocrine-disrupting hormones. Also known as di-indole-methane, DIM is a powerful phytonutrient that works as a natural hormone balancer and has been found to control inflammation, promote detoxification and combat cancer.

In the late 1970s, scientists first identified the presence of DIM in cruciferous vegetables like freeze-dried broccoli, as well as its potential to prevent breast cancer in animals.

Since then, investigators have broadened their DIM research to encompass estrogen metabolism, hormone balance, viral illnesses, inflammatory disorders and other cancers.

Thanks to what they’ve found, DIM may be the best-kept secret to living a fuller life in a chemical-filled world.

Editor’s note: Have you heard of EDTA chelation therapy? It was developed originally to remove lead and other contaminants, including heavy metals, from the body. Its uses now run the gamut from varicose veins to circulation. Click here to discover Chelation: Natural Miracle for Protecting Your Heart and Enhancing Your Health!


  1. What Are Hormones, And What Do They Do? — Hormone Health Network
  2. Endocrine Disruptors — National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
  3. Organophosphates: A Common But Deadly PesticideNational Geographic
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.