Session Recording

Let's Talk EDCs

Resources for clinicians and patients

We know that clinicians and their patients have questions about endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Compelling scientific evidence in recent decades has established strong links between chemical exposures and endocrine diseases, and patients may want to know about the evidence relating EDCs to specific diseases, or how they can control their exposures and reduce risks for themselves and their families.

In 2019, the Society’s EDC Advisory Group gathered a Task Force to develop resources that would help endocrinologists answer questions about EDCs and facilitate evidence-based discussions with their patients. The Task Force led the creation of the following series of short videos, which follow from the science presented in the Endocrine Society’s scientific statements on EDCs. We hope that you find these videos useful and encourage you to check back as more videos will be released in the coming months. If you have any questions or subjects that you would like to see in future installments in this series, please contact Joe Laakso, PhD, Director of Science Policy at jlaakso@endocrine.org. The Endocrine Society appreciates the contributions of representatives from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in the development of this resource.

An Introduction to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

by Laura Vandenberg, PhD

Why are endocrine-disrupting chemicals different from other toxic exposures? In this video, you will learn about how chemicals interfere with hormone biology and endocrine systems, and how principles of endocrinology can be applied to toxic chemical exposures.

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Q&A

There are unique features of endocrinology that need to be considered when evaluating how chemical exposures can cause endocrine disease. In the first video in this series, Laura Vandenberg, PhD, addresses the following questions:

Q: What are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)?

A: EDCs are chemicals or chemical mixtures that interfere in some way with hormone action.

Q: How am I exposed to EDCs?

A: There are many suspected sources of EDC exposures, including consumer products (e.g., cosmetics, food packaging materials) as well as industrial chemicals (e.g., PFAS) and pesticides.

Q: If EDCs are harmful, how come I haven’t noticed effects?

A: The effects of EDC exposures may take months or years to manifest and include complicated conditions with multiple contributing causes such as cancer, diabetes, and reproductive health issues.

Q: How do EDCs act and why are they different from other chemical exposures?

A: Hormones act at extremely low doses and EDCs may have effects at similar dose ranges. Hormones also control the development of organ systems, therefore exposure to EDCs during development may cause irreversible effects. The relationship between hormone levels and effect is also rarely linear, so low doses as well as high doses of EDCs may cause harm.


Environmental Endocrine Disruptors & Metabolic Disorders

by Robert Sargis, MD, PhD

What is the link between chemical exposures and metabolic disease? In this video, you will learn about how chemical exposures contribute to diseases such as obesity and diabetes, and why action is needed to reduce health disparities associated with EDC exposures.

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Q&A

Diabetes and obesity are two of the world’s most pressing health care issues, affecting hundreds of millions of individuals and responsible for millions of deaths yearly. The last 15 years have seen major advancements in the science linking these and other metabolic disorders with EDCs. These chemicals have sometimes been called “obesogens” and/or “diabetogens”. In the second video of this series, Rob Sargis, MD, PhD, addresses questions about how these chemicals influence metabolic disorders.

Q: Has science shown that chemicals influence human metabolism?

A: Studies have linked a variety of environmental toxicants with metabolic dysfunction through diverse molecular mechanisms.

Q: Are people commonly exposed these chemicals?

A: Humans are exposed to numerous chemicals with the capacity to alter metabolism, and chemical exposures likely contribute to the growth in rates of obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and diabetes.

Q: Do different communities have different risks related to EDCs?

A: Disproportionate exposures to endocrine disruptors likely contribute to health disparities.


Helping your Patients Limit Endocrine Disrupting Chemical Exposures

by Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP

Among the many sources of chemical exposures, what can patients do to reduce their risk? In this video, you will learn about straightforward and cost-effective steps that everyone can take to limit their exposure to harmful EDCs.

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Seven Safe and Simple Steps

Given the widespread nature of EDCs and strong evidence of harm, patients may understandably be concerned and have questions about what they can do to control their environment and limit exposures to EDCs. The following “seven safe and simple steps” are increasingly cost effective, do not require detailed scientific expertise, and will have real benefits to patients:

  1. Encourage the use of organic foods with a lower pesticide burden
  2. Avoid canned and processed foods
  3. Avoid handling thermal paper receipts
  4. Know what’s in your personal care products
  5. Limit phthalates and parabens by being careful with your plastic containers
  6. Prevent flame retardant exposure by replacing damaged furniture, buying natural products that are less flammable, and recirculating indoor air.
  7. Avoid nonstick cooking pans to prevent PFAS exposure.
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