Chemicals that we use in the day-to-day life are harmful to our health. It affects the health in many ways. One such harmful incidence of the bad influence of chemicals is thyroid dysfunction. Since thyroid glands have a significant influence on our health, a slight change in its demeanor affects the whole body. One could say that the harm is more when the affected part of the body is thyroid.
The reason why thyroid problems are sensitive is that in the majority of the cases, the changes in the thyroid functions may not be visible on the usual tests, but the body can still show signs of low thyroid hormones. This has prompted the European risk assessors to delve more into these kinds of endocrine disrupting chemicals or the sub-class of thyroid-disrupting chemicals.
Thyroid-Disrupting Chemicals (TDC)
Thyroid disrupting chemicals are the substances that affect the normal production and utilization of the thyroid hormones. Many of the items used in the daily life emit several types of chemicals. A major part of these chemicals is thyroid-disrupting chemicals.
These chemicals can bind to the thyroid hormone receptors and affects the use of these hormones, leading to its deficiency for the tissues. Since the amount of these thyroid hormones remain the same, the usual thyroid blood tests may show a normal range. The ill effects can impair the brain functions, its development, and cognitive or behavioral problems.
The Common Thyroid-Disrupting Chemicals
It is alarming to know that almost everything that we use for the daily life is harmful in one way or the other. All the plastic items, cleaning solutions, cosmetics, personal and health care items like soap, drugs, shampoo etc contain these types of chemicals. Though these chemicals may not show any outward signs unless they go over a certain level in the blood, these can do its silent attack on the body. Some of the common TDCs are
- Herbicides and pesticides that can affect the production of thyroid stimulating hormone in the pituitary and can also increase the unnecessary excretion of thyroid hormones from the body
- Flame retardants seen in items like mattresses, TVs, computers, paints, plastic etc can also affect the hypothalamus and pituitary leading to low production of thyroid hormones. It can also block the carrier molecules and prevent the tissues from getting the healthy amount of hormones.
- Phenols in detergents and soaps can prevent the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone into its active form.
- Phthalates in plastic bottles and cosmetics and parabens in food preservatives or the DDT like pesticides can directly affect the thyroids by blocking the stimulating hormone.
The ill effects of these chemicals are brain impairment in growing children, impaired thyroids, memory problems, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer and goiter.
The Mechanism Of TDCs On The Health
Receptor Binding Method
As mentioned, the TDCs can bind to the receptor sites that are meant for the thyroid hormones. The smooth functioning of the thyroids is complete only when the released hormones are utilized properly by the cells.
When the TDCs are blocking the receptors, these thyroid hormones are not utilized. The cells and body can function properly when these hormones are taken in. The TDCs completely block this activity.
Blocking The Thyroid Stimulating Hormones
The TDCs may also block the thyroid stimulating hormone produced by the pituitary, from promoting the thyroids to produce more hormones. The result here is that there are fewer amounts of hormones than needed.
The next way of the bad influence of TDCs is by preventing the absorption of iodine by the thyroids. These chemicals can bind to the receptor sites, blocking the entry of iodine into the glands.
Near The Tissues
The thyroid hormones are T4 and T3. T3 is the active form that is formed from T4. There is an enzyme that converts the T4 into the active T3 form. The TDCs can inhibit this enzyme- deiodinase enzyme, and prevent the T3 formation. The tissues cannot use the T4 unless it is converted.
The TDCs like heavy metals can force the body to convert the T4 into the inactive rT3 or reverse T3 form.
Increased Excretion Of Thyroid Hormones
Certain types of TDCs can increase the excretion rate of the thyroid hormones. As like other substances, the body manages these hormones by excreting them when required. With the interference of the chemicals, this mode is forced and the body loses more thyroid hormones, even before it can be used.
Girls And Women Are The Most Affected
For some unknown reasons, it is the girls and women who are at the receiving end of such bad effects of these chemicals. Girls who are exposed to such chemicals in their childhood are more likely to develop thyroid issues than the boys. The problems may arise in the childhood or after they attain maturity.
Difficulty In Diagnosis
The problem with the chemicals impairing thyroids is that there might not be a clear evidence of the problem. Unless the results show a variation in the production of the Thyroid Stimulating hormone or the thyroid hormones, there is no way to conclude the direct cause of problems.
What Is The Solution?
The only solution may be is to detoxify the body on regular basis. We may not be sure how often we are exposed to the harmful chemicals. You only need 3 days a month to detoxify the body.
Since there is the possibility of the presence of chemicals in the food that we eat, opt for only organic fruits and vegetables for the detox program.
Reduce the use of chemical cleaners and avoid the cosmetics as much as possible. Get rid of the plastic items at home and choose ceramic, earthen or glassware.
The use of chemical drugs can also play its part. The medicines used for other diseases can have its negative effects o the thyroids. Some drugs have the same effects as these above-mentioned chemicals while some others can trigger the autoimmune thyroid problems. Staying away from chemicals of any kind may be a good idea to maintain a good health. It can be a tough task, but something that everyone should try.