It seems as if there's a new story every day about the impact of environmental pollutants on our bodies, from pollution in the air to stuff found in plastic bottles and couches. Pollution is a global problem without a readily apparent solution, though taking steps to avoid exposure can help. On top of its environmental effects, pollution can affect your hormones in some surprising ways.
Studies have discovered that various substances might be associated with disruption of hormones in all sorts of ways, from the way we have babies to the way we cope with stress. While a lot of the science is associative — in other words, it just shows that pollution and hormone issues are linked, not that there's cause and effect — it's still worth knowing about.
Hormones in the body are produced and regulated by the endocrine system, which is very complex and involves multiple different organs and hormones. The study of the relationship between the world around us and our hormones is called environmental endocrinology; Professor Sean Lema wrote in 2017 for Oxford University Press that it's "the study of how the environmental conditions experienced by an organism affect the endocrine system." And environmental endocrinology has a lot of lessons for us about how various things in the environment might be affecting our hormones. Here are six ways pollution can impact your hormones.