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  • Writer's picturePCOS Vitality (c)

Environmental influences on PCOS...

We breathe, eat, drink and touch Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals or EDCs every day. EDCs block, mimic or disrupt normal hormone signals. Studies point to an association of EDCs with female reproduction system disorders, such as PCOS, infertility and endometriosis (Sifakis et al., 2017). EDCs are found in everyday items such as receipts, clothing, cosmetics, sunscreens, electronics, furniture, cleaning products, cars, food and food packaging.

Bisphenol A (BPA), is a common plasticizer and well recognized as an endocrine disrupting chemical. BPA exposure in PCOS women was found to promote obesity, especially the visceral type, hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and elevated androgen levels (Milanović et al., 2020) BPA can be found in printed till receipts and some plastic food containers. Packaging and food containers can leech chemicals when heated so opting for BPA free products is wise.

Modern diets are largely heat-processed and as a result contain high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Dietary advanced glycation end products (dAGEs) are known to contribute to increased oxidant stress and inflammation. AGEs are raised in the serum and ovarian tissue of those with PCOS, and are thought to contribute to the metabolic and reproductive consequences of PCOS(Merhi et al., 2019) Studies have found dry heat promotes new dAGE formation by >10- to 100-fold above the uncooked state across food categories. Animal-derived foods that are high in fat and protein are generally AGE-rich and prone to new AGE formation during cooking. In contrast, carbohydrate-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk contain relatively few AGEs, even after cooking. The formation of new dAGEs during cooking was prevented by the AGE inhibitory compound aminoguanidine and significantly reduced by cooking with moist heat, using shorter cooking times, cooking at lower temperatures, and by use of acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar. The new dAGE database provides a valuable instrument for estimating dAGE intake and for guiding food choices to reduce dAGE intake (Uribarri et al., 2010).

You can minimise EDCs by choosing your cooking utensils carefully, avoiding plastic generally and going for BPA free products. Also, check the ingredients labels of beauty products carefully and avoid products that contain parabens. Use air-fresheners and candles with caution, again checking for toxins. Ideally when you can, prep food at home using fresh ingredients. AGEs can be reduced by cooking food at lower temperatures such as boiling or steaming. A mediterranean diet is generally considered to be useful for PCOS and remember to use lemon juice to help reduce AGEs (Milewicz et al., 2018).

© PCOS Vitality, 2020


Merhi, Z., Kandaraki, E. A., & Diamanti-Kandarakis, E. (2019). Implications and Future Perspectives of AGEs in PCOS Pathophysiology. In Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism (Vol. 30, Issue 3, pp. 150–162). Elsevier Inc.

Milanović, M., Milošević, N., Sudji, J., Stojanoski, S., Atanacković Krstonošić, M., Bjelica, A., Milić, N., & Medić Stojanoska, M. (2020). Can environmental pollutant bisphenol A increase metabolic risk in polycystic ovary syndrome? Clinica Chimica Acta, 507, 257–263.

Milewicz, A., Kudła, M., Spaczyński, R. Z., Dębski, R., Męczekalski, B., Wielgoś, M., Ruchała, M., Małecka-Tendera, E., Kos-Kudła, B., Jędrzejuk, D., & Zachurzok, A. (2018). The polycystic ovary syndrome: A position statement from the Polish Society of Endocrinology, the Polish Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians, and the Polish Society of Gynaecological Endocrinology. Endokrynologia Polska, 69(4), 328–336.

Sifakis, S., Androutsopoulos, V. P., Tsatsakis, A. M., & Spandidos, D. A. (2017). Human exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals: effects on the male and female reproductive systems. In Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology (Vol. 51, pp. 56–70). Elsevier B.V.

Uribarri, J., Woodruff, S., Goodman, S., Cai, W., Chen, X., Pyzik, R., Yong, A., Striker, G. E., & Vlassara, H. (2010). Advanced Glycation End Products in Foods and a Practical Guide to Their Reduction in the Diet. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 110(6).

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