EDCs (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals)

An Endocrine Disrupting Chemical (EDC) or Endocrine Disruptor (ED) is any chemical that can interfere with normal hormone functions in humans and/or animals. The human endocrine system is a collection of glands which secrete different types of hormones that regulate the body’s growth and metabolism, sexual development, and behavior. Naturally occurring hormones are usually active at very low doses. A healthy endocrine system is essential to the normal functioning of the human body.

Some EDCs are present in our natural environment including phytoestrogens however, most EDCs are synthetic compounds. Over a 1400 compounds are known or suspected to be EDCs. Only a small fraction of these has been investigated in tests capable of identifying endocrine effects in intact organisms. EDCs are present in a wide variety of products including plastics, pesticides, cosmetics, fragrances, food, kitchen cleaners, adhesives, paints, clothing, medical equipment, and toys.

In 2015 the Endocrine Society released a statement on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) specifically listing obesity, diabetes, female reproduction, male reproduction, hormone-sensitive cancers in females, prostate cancer in males, thyroid, and neurodevelopment and neuroendocrine systems as being affected biological aspects of being exposed to EDCs.  The critical period of development for most organisms is between the transitions from a fertilized egg into a fully formed infant. As the cells begin to grow and differentiate, there are critical balances of hormones and protein changes that must occur. Therefore, a dose of disrupting chemicals may do substantial damage to a developing fetus. The same dose may not significantly affect adult mothers.

 

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