New Delhi: The teenage years are a critical period for growth and development, and the endocrine system plays a crucial role in regulating these processes. The endocrine system produces hormones that control a wide range of bodily functions, including growth, metabolism, and reproduction. Unfortunately, many common chemicals in our environment can disrupt the normal functioning of the endocrine system, leading to serious health problems for teenagers.
Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are substances that mimic the body's own hormones and obstruct their regular operation. Plastics, cosmetics, and even tap water contain these chemicals, as do many other goods. Endocrine disruptors, such as triclosan, parabens, bisphenol A (BPA), and phthalates, can be detrimental to teenagers.
During puberty, endocrine disruptor exposure can have a significant negative impact on a person's health, particularly reproductive health. The growth of the reproductive system depends heavily on hormones, and any interference with this process can have long-lasting consequences. Endocrine disruptors have been related to a variety of adolescent reproductive issues, including infertility, early puberty, and lowered male sperm quality and motility. These disruptions may have a substantial negative effect on the general reproductive health of both sexes, specifically on their capacity to conceive and sustain a healthy pregnancy. To ensure normal reproductive system development during the teenage years, it is essential to limit exposure to endocrine disruptors.
Exposure can affect not only sexual health but also how the brain develops. Hormones control how the brain develops and operates, and any disturbance with this process can have serious repercussions. Research has connected endocrine disruptor exposure to a range of neuro behavioural issues, such as ADHD, autism, and cognitive disabilities. These problems may significantly affect a person's ability to study, interact with others, and carry out daily activities, as well as their overall quality of life.
So, how can teenagers avoid exposure to endocrine disruptors? While it may be impossible to completely avoid exposure, there are steps that teenagers can take to minimise their risk.
Choose products labelled "paraben-free" or "phthalate-free": These chemicals are commonly found in skincare products, cosmetics, and fragrances. Opting for products without these chemicals can help reduce exposure.
Use non-plastic containers: Many plastics contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA (bisphenol A) and phthalates. Choosing non-plastic containers for food and beverages, such as glass or stainless steel, can help reduce exposure.
Eat fresh, organic foods: Pesticides and other chemicals used in conventional farming practices can contain endocrine disruptors, which can contaminate the food we eat. Eating fresh, organic foods can reduce exposure.
Avoid processed foods: Many processed foods contain preservatives and additives, such as artificial food colours, that can contain endocrine disruptors. Opting for whole, unprocessed foods can help reduce exposure.
Filter drinking water: Endocrine disruptors can also be found in tap water. Using a filter can help reduce exposure to these chemicals.
In conclusion, today's youth is very concerned about the effects of endocrine disruptors on teenagers. Hormones are essential for controlling development, metabolism, and reproduction, and any disruption of these functions can have negative effects. These results highlight the necessity for adolescents to take precautions to reduce their exposure to hormone disruptors. Teenagers can safeguard their health and wellbeing now and in the future by making educated decisions about the products they use and the food they consume.
(Prasanna Vasanadu, founder of Tikitoro)