How Does the Endocrine System Get Disrupted?
What is the endocrine system?
The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things. (1) It includes the adrenal glands, parathyroid gland, pituitary gland, and thyroid gland, as well as the ovaries, pancreas, and testes.
What does the endocrine system do?
The endocrine system influences how well your body functions–such as your heartbeat, growth of your bones and tissues, and your ability to make a baby. This incredible system within us plays a vital role in hormone-related disorders and whether or not you develop conditions like:
- Growth disorders
- Thyroid Cancer
- Sexual dysfunctions
- Metabolic Disorder
How does stress affect the endocrine system?
According to the American Psychological Association, the addition of stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is important to blood pressure regulation and the normal functioning of several body systems. When the body undergoes constant stress, it taxes all systems in the body, along with the endocrine system. This mixture of strain in the body sets it up for a variety of illnesses that can be difficult to diagnose and treat. (2)
A wide and varied range of substances are thought to cause disruption. Chemicals that are known to disrupt the endocrine include diethylstilbestrol (the synethetic estrogen DES), dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT, and other pesticides. (3)
The endocrine system can be impacted by many other substances and activities by common things like stress, food, and exercise. Today scientists and doctors care most about any substances that will upset endocrine activity. They’re most concerned about any activity that might potentially lead to adverse health effects for people. Most people today are exposed to doses and durations of exposure far higher than we realize. It’s no surprise that we are constantly exposed to substances that can negatively impact the endocrine system and cause adverse health effects.
According to the American Chemistry Council, “how a chemical interacts with the endocrine system depends on a variety of factors, including the:
- Type and duration of the exposure to the chemical,
- Frequency of exposure,
- Potency of the chemical substance, and
- Ways in which the body absorbs and eliminates the substance.
The interplay of these factors can determine whether the endocrine system’s response to the chemicals is positive, neutral or negative.” (4)
- American Psychological Association
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (pdf)
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Cathy lives in Roanoke, Virginia and specializes in supporting families who desire to change their relationship with health–the way they eat, feel and live. She is a certified Health Coach & Educator with a strong passion for supporting each client in their journey to feeling stronger, healthier, and more energetic. Cathy presents workshops online and locally and regularly talks about real food, fitness, natural living, and all things ADHD.
Cathy is the creator of the Holistic Wellness Academy, an online training platform that will soon provide other wellness advocates a place to share their expertise with their clients so they too can learn how to eat smart, move more, feel better and live longer.