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Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)

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robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
1 17 Sep 2017
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with endocrine (or hormone) systems at certain doses. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders.

Our modern lives are drenched in chemicals, some of which can mimic hormones in our body's endocrine system.

Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancer rates are on the rise in humans, while sperm count and fertility are on a downward slide in some populations. What if chemical exposure was partly responsible for these trends?

One hypothesis is that a group of chemicals — known as 'endocrine disrupting chemicals' (EDCSs) — could affect human reproduction, puberty, metabolism and other functions controlled by hormones in our endocrine system.

Many suspected EDCs are already in your home — but how much risk do they really pose? At what exposure level do they become unsafe?

Unfortunately the answer is not straightforward, with a range of opinions held by scientists, industry and regulators.

In terms of scientific evidence, there are good laboratory studies that show some industrial chemicals affect endocrine function in mice and rats, and many examples of endocrine disruption in wildlife from chemicals in the environment.

However, it's a lot harder to get conclusive evidence that these chemicals do the same in humans. This is partly because studying the long-term effects of everyday chemicals on humans is difficult.

Dr Gore argue that the classical toxicology approach does not allow for the possibility that very low levels of exposure to an EDC could have long-term effects, particularly if the exposure occurred at times when humans are very sensitive to hormones, such as in the womb or at puberty.

"Endocrinologists … say the timing makes the poison," she said.

"You can take a very low level of a chemical that disrupts a hormone and if you expose it during a developmental time of life when your body might not normally be exposed to a natural hormone at all, the body can respond to that low dose."

It's estimated that there are close to 100,000 manufactured chemicals in our world, and we have not tested every single one of them, said Dr Leusch.