Are you a fast food junkie? If you are, you may want to rethink the costly convince that could possibly be making you sicker each time you are trying to save time or just being too lazy to cook. I can say that because I have been guilty of it more than I would like to admit.
Many ingredients are found in fast food that can compromise your health. These convenience meals come with endocrinedisrupting chemicals. Studies have proved that people eating drive-through hamburgers and takeout pizzas have higher levels of phthalates in their urine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that between 2003 and 2010, data revealed urine tests from 8,900 people of all ages had higher levels of phthalates. This is defined as food from restaurants without “table service” as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, sandwich shops, Starbucks and other casual dining and reported by Time Magazine. They found that higher levels of two substances occur when phthalates break down in the body. These two substances are DEHP and DiNP.
This would certainly make a lot of people take a second look at that quick trip through the drivein window! It may be faster, but not safer or healthy. Those who got 35% of their calories from fast food in a 24 hour period had nearly 24% higher levels of DEHP and 39 % higher DiNP in their urine than those who had not consumed any fast food. Studies show exposure to the phthalate metabolite DEHP can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system, especially the developing testes of prenatal and neonatal males. Now that is something to think about. Research has also linked both DEHP and DiNP to increased insulin resistance in adolescents.
Di(2ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is a highly lipophilic (fatsoluble) chemical that is loosely chemically bonded to the plastic, allowing it to leach out into other fatcontaining solutions in contact with the plastic.
Diisononyl Phthalate (DiNP), is a commonly used plasticizer in flexible PVC products. Even though considered harmless from a health and environmental perspective, more recent research suggests it may in fact have similar effects as DEPH and other phthalates.
Isn’t it ironic that we might be eating a plastic substance? Not something I want to do. Avoiding the fast food line can be a simple way to cut Phthalate exposure. One reason fast food exposes you to higher levels of plasticizing chemicals is because workers use plastic gloves when handling each and every ingredient, and that’s a source of phthalate contamination, too, over and beyond the actual packaging. Japan actually banned vinyl gloves for use in food establishments back in 2001 due to their phthalate content. In the U.S. the use of vinyl gloves has actually increased.
The National Restaurant Association and the American Chemical Society respond saying that the phthalate levels found in fast food are “well below” levels the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems potentially harmful to human health. However, EPA safety levels for DEHP have not been revised since 1988. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what a new study by EPA would show?
Health risks associated with Phthalates are “genderbending” chemicals causing males of all species to become more female. The chemicals have disrupted the endocrine systems of wildlife, causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, low sperm counts and infertility in a number of species that scientists suspect may affect human fertility and reproduction. The endocrine system plays a role in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function and metabolism. Here are some examples that have been found:
- Reduced IQ in children
- Decreased dysgenesis syndrome
- Interference with sexual differentiation in utero
- Enlarged prostate glands, testicular cancer, breast cancer and uterine fibroids
- Impaired ovulatory cycles and polycystic ovary disease
- Numerous hormonal disruptions and metabolic disease
- Early or delayed puberty
- Disturbed lactation
- Toxicity to developing male reproductive systems
- Neurodevelopmental delays, inattention, hyperactivity and symptoms of autism
- Miscarriage and preterm birth
- Allergies and respiratory problems
Just remember that Phthalates are everywhere and among the most pervasive of all known endocrine disrupters. More than 470 million pounds of phthalates are produced each year. Just a few tips to help you avoid those endocrine disrupting chemicals try to avoid fast-food, use natural cleaning products, Eat organic diets, buy products in glass, not plastic or cans, store food in glass, use glass baby bottles and replace your vinyl shower curtain with fabric or glass doors. There are many others but basically, avoid plastics wherever you can. Let’s all do our part to make this world healthier and keep our body is good working condition.
–Dr Fredda Branyon