On Monday, the Endocrine Society is expected to present the executive summary of its second scientific statement studying advances in endocrine disrupting chemical research from the past 6 years.
The statement will examine evidence linking exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) to various health problems, including infertility, birth defects and other disorders. EDCs mimic, block or otherwise interfere with the body’s natural hormones. Such chemicals include bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, pesticides and industrial chemicals.
The Endocrine Society’s full scientific statement is scheduled for online publication in its journal, Endocrine Reviews, in October. However, until then, here are 5 things you need to know about EDCs.
EDCs’ damaging effects to humans
been difficult to demonstrate
Despite the mounting evidence for the consequences of EDCs’ ubiquity in household items, scientific proof of their harm remains elusive. Attempting to link chemical exposure to endocrine diseases, which may take decades to manifest, has been particularly challenging.
has increased exponentially over the decades
In a paper published in Endocrine Reviews, Andrea C. Gore, PhD, and colleagues demonstrated an increase in chemicals, from approximately 120,000 in 1988 to 250,000 in 2008. While not all of them are EDCs, many of them have not been tested.
EDCs are found in many household items
BPA, known for its presence in plastic water bottles and food-container linings, has been at the center of the EDC debate for years. The chemical has been banned in the U.S. and other countries from use in baby bottles and children’s cups. EDCs are also found in processed foods, lotions, cosmetics, certain shampoos, household pest killers and air fresheners. Some EDCs can move through air and water currents, as well as build up in the food chain. Others, such as the pesticide DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls, used as industrial and commercial plasticizers and in pigments, have already been banned in the U.S.
Published studies have shown evidence of EDCs’ damaging effects on the body
Consuming soy milk from cans lined with bisphenol A vs. glass bottles raised systolic blood pressure by approximately 4.5 mm Hg, as well as urinary BPA concentrations by more than 1,600%, in a randomized trial of 60 participants published in Hypertension. A review of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 1999 to 2008, published in PLOS ONE, showed an association between EDCs and earlier-stage menopause. In addition, studies on brain development in rodents, published in Molecular Endocrinology and Endocrinology, showed that a 2-day window of low-level EDC exposure in utero changed gene expression and brain protein throughout the life cycle.
More research is needed
EDC survey findings in humans are limited relative to those from animal surveys, and exposure studies can only be conducted in animals. In addition, from a diagnostic standpoint, no common tests for EDCs are currently available. As new chemicals are continually in development, the Endocrine Society’s scientific statement is expected to stress the need for more research into the identification of EDCs, as well as for more public education.
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