EDC's and the Endocrine System

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Unless their career is in the sciences or medicine, most adults have only a sketchy understanding of the human endocrine system and just what it's full responsibilities are toward maintaining life. And if most were like me as a teenager, they were not real interested in hearing about the scientific stuff in a high school classroom filled with interesting members of the opposite sex. We had a pretty firm handle on the fact that our bodies had changed and just what had caused those changes. We weren't interested in the why's and wherefore's. We were too busy testing and checking it all out.

I suspect this may still be the case as less and less adults are able to understand the full implications of an environment that is polluted with EDC's (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals). Without a fundamental understanding of how the system works, it may be difficult to understand the serious problems being faced when determining the dangers we are exposing ourselves and our children to in the guise of food additives, including pesticides and insecticides.

The endocrine system is constructed of a network of glands which produce, store, and secrete hormones to regulate many bodily functions, including metabolism and growth. Besides controlling growth and development, it also helps maintain homeostasis (the internal balance of body systems), metabolism (energy levels in the body), reproduction, and responses to stimuli such as stress or injury.

There are ten endocrine glands, nine of which will be found in each human depending on whether male or female. They are: the hypothalamus, pineal gland, pituitary gland, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal gland, pancreas, ovaries, and testes. This system of glands is one of the body's main communicators, using the bloodstream to deliver hormones to other cells, tissues, and organs located throughout the body.

In order for this system to function at optimum levels, certain requirements must be met. The glands must release the proper amount of hormones necessary to do their job successfully. There must be a strong blood supply for transportation. The target tissue (cells or organs) must have enough receptors onto which the hormones may attach to do their jobs. These targets have to be able to respond correctly to the signal from the hormone.

The hypothalamus is located in the brain and is what maintains the body's internal balance. It is the link between the nervous and endocrine systems. It produces hormones which stop and start the production of other hormones in the body. The hypothalamus stimulates/inhibits a lot of the body's processes such as heart rate and blood pressure, body temperature, appetite and body weight, substances which influence the pituitary gland to release hormones, fluid and electrolyte balance, including thirst, and sleep cycles.

When the hypothalamus receives a signal from the nervous system, it secretes substances that start and stop pituitary hormones. It is considered the most essential gland of the endocrine system, and diseases of the hypothalamus include thirst, appetite and sleep disorders. And while there are any number of factors that can cause hypothalamic disorders, some of the culprits are malnutrition, trauma, anorexia, and tumors.

In comparison to fifty years ago, fruits and vegetables being grown today are not carrying the nutrients of the past. A 2002 Canadian study showed a drastic reduction of nutrients in over 80% of the fruits and vegetables tested, indicating that many of our foods are becoming nothing more than lumps of empty calories. When we don't consume enough of the right balance of nutrients, malnutrition or under-nutrition is the result. The pesticides and insecticides being used in today's farming methods are causing our crops to lose their nutritional value, so all we are getting is a lot more of nothing worth eating.

The pineal gland is located in the center of the brain. The only hormone secreted by the pineal gland is melatonin, a hormone produced and secreted at night. It is involved in the regulation of seasonal reproduction, body weight and energy balance, as well as the resynchronization of sleep and circadian rhythms disturbances. It is also the primary target of fluoride accumulation in the body. The soft tissue of the adult pineal gland, after decades of floridated water, can accumulate more than 300 ppm which is capable of inhibiting enzymes. The hard tissue accumulates up to 21,000 ppm, more than teeth or bone can or will store.

The research of Dr. Jennifer Luke of the University of Surrey in England found that animals treated with fluoride have lower levels of circulating melatonin, and the reduced state was accompanied by an earlier onset of puberty in the fluoride treated female animals. Her conclusion was that fluoride is associated with depressed pineal melatonin synthesis and that further research and investigation is needed to determine the degree of interference it poses in humans.

The truth behind the US government's involvement in the fluoridation of drinking water represents one of the most heinous and deceitful acts against American citizens of all time. The subject would require its own article to be covered accurately and completely, but suffice it to say, fluoridation of water was the result of a scheme to offset litigation instigated in behalf of contractors and laborers working on the nuclear bomb projects of WWII. The idea was to “prove” that fluoride was beneficial to humans and children's teeth, rather than being severely detrimental to their health, as complainants maintained. The plan worked so well that we now accept fluoride in toothpaste as though it is actually necessary to strong teeth when the opposite is actually true.

The pituitary gland is considered the master gland, though it only acts after the hypothalamus prompts it to do so. Its hormones control other parts of the endocrine system: the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes. It sends hormones to these glands which signal them to begin production and release of their own hormones.

Pituitary tumors are the most prevalent disorder, and a great number of adults are proving to have them, though in most cases they aren't life threatening. However, it doesn't mean they are harmless as they can disrupt the pituitary gland's ability to release hormones. Cushing's Syndrome is a pituitary disorder which can lead to a number of other disorders, all of which are hormone related.

Many food additives and hormones injected into our meat supply are known to cause brain cancer and tumors. This may be an explanation for the number of adults who are suffering from pituitary tumors, especially when considering that the hormones being injected are sex and growth hormones, both natural and synthetic.

The thyroid gland controls and regulates metabolism and every other cell depends on the thyroid to manage its metabolism. Thyroid disorders are becoming more and more common, and include goiters, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroid nodules, cancer, and thyroiditis. Any of these conditions will affect weight, hair and skin texture, memory, irritability, the bowel functions, abnormal menstrual cycles, weakness, and fatigue, as well as muscle cramps and depression.

The parathyroid gland secretes a hormone that regulates the body's calcium levels. The gland helps the nervous and muscular systems function properly. Calcium levels are extremely important to the conduction of electrical currents along nerves, as well as being the primary substance that cause muscles to contract. PTH (parathyroid hormone) regulates how much calcium is absorbed from the diet, how much is released into the kidneys, and how much is stored in bones and teeth. It also increases the formation of active vitamin D, which increases intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphates.

Aging is blamed for the onset of osteoporosis in older women as a result of naturally lowered estrogen levels. However, it is on the rise, and is no longer a disease only to be associated with women moving into their senior years.

The thymus gland is only active until puberty, after which it shrinks until it becomes nothing more than fatty tissue. While active, its job is to stimulate the development of disease fighting T cells. It is instrumental in the production and maturation of T-lymphocytes or T cells, that protect the body from certain threats such as viruses and infections. This function helps the body to protect itself against autoimmunity, which occurs when the body's immune system turns on itself. Hodgkin's Disease occurs when lymphocytes turn cancerous.

Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Hashimoto's Disease, Crohn's Disease, Psoriasis, narcolepsy, and rheumatoid Arthritis are just a few examples of autoimmune diseases. Across the board, autoimmune diseases are on the rise, psoriasis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and pediatric cases of multiple sclerosis in particular.

Sitting on top of the kidneys are the adrenal glands. They produce hormones that are vital to life, such as cortisol which helps regulate metabolism and triggers your body to respond to stress. Cortisol regulates just how the body breaks converts fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to energy. Also secreted are the hormones that help regulate blood pressure. One other hormone is not necessary to living, though it is what we most associate with the adrenal glands and that is adrenaline.

The pancreas is responsible for maintaining the body's blood glucose balance. The two primary hormones of the pancreas are insulin and glucagon. Both of these hormones regulate blood sugar. The most well-known and common disorder associated with the pancreas is Diabetes. In addition to that disease in all its forms, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are pancreatic disorders.

The ovaries in females maintain the health of the female reproductive system. They secrete two main hormones: estrogen and progesterone. There are three major estrogens, estradiol, estrone, and estriol, which work together in the development of female sex characteristics. It is the estradio which is instrumental in fat distribution in the breasts, hips and legs, especially in the formation of breast tissue and reproductive organs.

The testes are the male sex glands which secrete testosterone, necessary for the physical development in boys. In adults, testosterone maintains muscle strength, bone density and libido. It is also necessary for sperm production in the interest of continuing the human species. A lowered testosterone level causes a decreased sex drive, diminished muscle mass, low sperm count and loss of body hair. This can happen as a result of aging, medications, or injury. There is a growing incidence of men with low testosterone with no identifiable reason for it. Besides the reasons already listed, pituitary tumors or deformities can cause a reduction in the production of testosterone.

In addition to all the mentioned reasons for disorders of the various endocrine glands, there is an emerging monster destroying the endocrine systems of our families, friends, and just as importantly, ourselves. It is the increasing use of EDC's in our environment, put there through use of various pesticides, insecticides, and growth and sex hormones being used every day, through out the day by corporations that produce our food, as well as those that service us in many other capacities. Our cleaning chemicals, our plastics, and even our lawn care products which we use ourselves, are coming to pose a serious threat to us surviving as a species. Manufacturing companies have willfully chosen to employ substances and chemicals known to cause illness, disease, and even death, in the interest of inflating their profit margins. There are other, safer substitutes for what they are using, but it will not provide them with the astronomical profits they realize from poisoning our children and their world.

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Comments 4 comments

Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Anyone who cares two bits for their health or even life would do themselves a favor reading this article. I read it slowly and learned some new facts. Great job Terri on exposing the dangers to our endocrine systems which consist of 10 glands. A person CAN do something to lower their risk, but it takes some effort. A good start would be by reading this article. Btw Terii, I take Cod/Butter oil as a supplement. Taking it for the first few days the body actually reacted adjusting to the infusion of pristine nutrients. Yeah, better supplement your grocery food. It DOESN'T take channeling Jack LaLane to tell one that.


Terri Meredith profile image

Terri Meredith 5 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Ah, Alastar, thank you again. I have learned to supplement in order to survive. I, too, suffered the adjustment thing for a few days, but the benefits sure are worth it. I decided to write this because I truly believe most people just don't realize how seriously messed up our bodies become when we start suffering from hormonal imbalances. It just sucks to finally realize that we've all been duped into believing that our health issues are all about just lifestyle choices and the aging process. I have to admit, it can be a bit disheartening when first attempting to get a handle on the poisons we ingest, because just about everything on the market is now tainted with them. Perseverance pays off, though.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Yes it does Terri. Folks have just got to realize-like I said in your excellent article on additives- its buyer beware now on our food purchases and just because something says organic means next to nothing with the companies caving into buying EPA approved GMO seed from big Agri.for one thing. Some believe GMO is great and will help feed the world, maybe they're right on that. What do you think.


Terri Meredith profile image

Terri Meredith 5 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Funny you should mention GMO seeds! I have been doing a little research on the subject and am putting notes together for a hub. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it, but I'm not liking it much at this point. Will definitely have a firm opinion when I'm done. :)

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