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Expert panel pushes to regulate endocrine disrupting compounds like BPA

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Endocrine Society releases Scientific Statement about endocrine disruptors.

In a scientific statement released by the Endocrine Society, the group says BPA and other endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) are a concern for human health. The panel of experts is calling for more education and research. They also say a precautionary approach toward limiting exposure to EDCs is “critical” for human reproductive health.

Human exposure to BPA and other endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), which the group notes include “synthetic chemicals used as industrial solvents/lubricants and their byproducts [polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), dioxins], plastics [bisphenol A(BPA)], plasticizers (phthalates), pesticides [methoxychlor, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)], fungicides (vinclozolin), and pharmaceutical agents [diethylstilbestrol (DES)”, are known to interfere with natural hormones.

The group explains there is no hormone system that isn't affected by the compounds, and our understanding of how that happens has grown.

Chemical in the environment linked to epigenetic changes

Continued exposure to BPA, phthalates, pesticides and other environmental toxins is worrisome for epigenetic changes from repeated exposure that could harm generations to come.

The scientific group says evidence is “strong” that BPA and other hormone disrupting compounds in the environment could cause infertility, cancers and birth defects in humans that should be further explored.

The authors explain BPA and other EDCs often contain chlorines and bromines, which are thought to mimic natural steroid hormones. They cite several experimental studies and cite rising rates of diabetes and obesity that could plausibly stem from environmental compounds found in products used daily by millions.

Several classes of endocrine disruptors are identified as antiandrogens, meaning they block production of the steroid hormone responsible for the development and function of male sex organs.

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The authors explain…”even infinitesimally low levels of exposure—indeed, any level of exposure at all—may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities, particularly if exposure occurs during a critical developmental window. Surprisingly, low doses may even exert more potent effects than higher doses.”

There are many unknowns about the short-term and long-term effects of EDCs.

BPA has recently been in the news, relative to high levels of excretion in the urine found in study participants who consumed canned soup daily for five days.

The scientists suggest the effects could interfere with thyroid function, lead to female reproductive disorders, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer, based on experimental data.

The authors concluded:

“In the absence of direct information regarding cause and effect, the precautionary principle is critical to enhancing reproductive and endocrine health. As endocrinologists, we suggest that The Endocrine Society actively engages in lobbying for regulation seeking to decrease human exposure to the many endocrine-disrupting agents.”

Note to politicians

They also say scientific societies should pool their resources to increase the numbers of experts with knowledge of EDCs like BPA and other rampant compounds in the environment so they can serve as advocates to politicians and communities.

The Endocrine Society’s Scientific Statement is a call for more research and a push for decreasing human exposure to compounds like BPA, through government regulation of BPA, pesticides, plasticizers and other compounds that interfere with hormones, known as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs).

Updated August 14, 2014