As the European Commission prepares to take action on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), The Endocrine Society submitted an open letter urging the governing body to call upon the expertise of endocrinologists during its deliberations.
EDCs are commonly found in food and food containers, plastic products, furniture, toys, carpeting, building materials, and cosmetics. EDCs include chemicals such as bisphenol A (water bottles, can linings), certain phthalates (various plastic products and cosmetics), and pesticides such as chlorpyrifos (used on a wide variety of food crops). They are often released from the products that contain them and enter the bodies of humans and wildlife through dust or through the food chain. Tests show the presence of dozens of chemicals with hormone disrupting properties in people, including children.
In the letter, William F. Young, Jr., MD, president of The Endocrine Society writes, “Endocrinologists bring a necessary perspective to the discussion of endocrine-disrupting chemicals as they examine the actions of these chemicals in the context of normal physiology and they understand the subtle and nuanced effects EDCs exert on the endocrine system. Fundamental principles of endocrinology must be applied in any program that is intended to identify and/or evaluate EDCs.”
In June 2009, the Society published a Scientific Statement that presents a comprehensive evaluation of the scientific literature on EDCs, emphasizing their effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology. Since then, a number of additional reports, from the Society and other groups, have highlighted the potential adverse health effects of EDCs and have shown that these effects often are observed at very low levels of exposure.
Unlike many substances that have detrimental effects on health, endocrine disruptors exert their effects by interfering with endogenous hormone action. Therefore, as stated in the Society’s letter, EDCs must be examined in the context of endocrine principles that arise from decades of careful research into the mechanisms and consequences of hormone action under normal circumstances.
“As evidence continues to mount, urgency for action increases,” notes Young. “We look to the Commission and other international policymaking bodies to take the lead in improving EDC regulations.”
Founded in 1916, The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, The Endocrine Society’s membership consists of more than 16,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses, and students in more than 100 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied, and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our web site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/EndoMedia.