Our Issues

The Field of Endocrinology

Hundreds of millions of people worldwide suffer from conditions and diseases tied to hormone disturbances. In many cases, medical doctors and researchers called endocrinologists are the unsung heroes who see the pattern in a host of often odd or unique symptoms.Many of the medical breakthroughs of the past century, such as the discovery of insulin, have been attributed to endocrinologists. Ten winners of the Nobel prize (in both Physiology or Medicine, and Chemistry) were members of the Endocrine Society, the world’s largest medical society of endocrine professionals. As well, there have been thirty-five endocrine-related Nobel prizes in all awarded over the past century. The impact of endocrinologists and endocrinology-related research on the medical field has been profound.

 

Diabetes

Diabetes—a metabolic disease involving the inability of the pancreas to produce or use the hormone insulin that results in high blood sugar levels—affects more than 422 million men, women, and children worldwide. The Endocrine Society and the Hormone Health Network are recognizing the importance of this global epidemic with the aim of increasing awareness and prevention.

 

Thyroid Issues and Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid gland has a huge impact on a person’s health and our collective mission is to fuel the development of promising new treatments and improve the lives of patients. The science has come a long way. In the past few years researchers have discovered new ways to diagnose and treat thyroid cancer without surgery, have reduced the negative effects of thyroid disorders in pregnant women including gestational diabetes and higher rates of C-Sections, and have employed radical research methods to help develop new models for treating Graves’ disease.

 

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)

The Endocrine Society has been highly engaged in global efforts to reduce harms due to exposures from EDCs. To advance understanding and protect the public health, the Society has called for increased support for research, collaborative efforts between scientists and policymakers to develop and revise policy, and centralized regulatory oversight of EDCs.

 

Reproductive Health

Hormones play a critical role in women’s reproductive health. They regulate menstruation, fertility, menopause, and sex drive. The Endocrine Society and the Hormone Health Network aim to educate women about how hormones can affect their health. The main hormones affecting the menstrual cycle and fertility are produced by glands in the brain and by the ovaries. During menopause, a time in a woman’s life when the menstrual cycles end and pregnancy cannot happen naturally, women may face hot flashes, mood swings, loss of sleep, and other symptoms. The Hormone Health Network’s Menopause Map™ can help guide women through their personal journey with menopause.

 

Obesity

Obesity is a global epidemic. More than 35 percent of adults and nearly 17 percent of children in the United States alone have obesity. Globally, more than 39 percent of adults are overweight and 13 percent are obese. The Endocrine Society and its members are committed to the research and clinical approaches needed to combat this worldwide burden.

 

Hormones and Cancer

When a hormonal imbalance takes place, negative effects can occur. Sometimes these imbalances can even contribute to the development of cancer. In October, the Endocrine Society and the Hormone Health Network are recognizing the impact of cancer, with the aim of increasing awareness about the role hormones play in cancer risk.

 

Historical Vignettes

Discovery of Thyroxine (1914): Edward Kendall

 

Discovery of Insulin (1921): Fred Banting and Charles Best

 

Identification and Synthesis of T3 (1954): Rosalyn Pitt Rivers

 

Discovery of GNHR (1971): Andrew Schally and Roger Guillemin

 

Discovery of Hormone Processes (1972): Bert O'Malley

 

Discovery of Nuclear Receptors (1980s):Ronald Evans

 

History of the Insulin Pump