Hormone disruption, also known as endocrine disruption, occurs when chemicals in the environment interfere with the body’s normal hormonal systems. These chemicals, called endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are found in a variety of products, including pesticides, plastics, cleaning products, and personal care items. EDCs mimic natural hormones, such as estrogen and androgen, and can disrupt the body’s normal hormone functions, leading to adverse health effects in humans.
EDCs are known to cause hormone disruption in humans of all ages. Some of the most common ways EDCs act on the body are by decreasing fertility, increasing the risk for certain types of cancer, and affecting brain development and behavior.
One way that EDCs can cause fertility problems is by disrupting the hormones responsible for reproductive functions. This can lead to early puberty, menstrual irregularities, and infertility. EDCs may also increase the risk of certain cancers, including breast, ovarian, and testicular cancer. In addition, EDCs can cause endocrine disruption in other ways. For example, exposure to certain chemicals may raise levels of hormones such as testosterone that can lead to increased aggression and reduced learning ability. They can also decrease levels of hormones such as thyroid hormones, which can result in slowed metabolic rate and fatigue.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (or EDCs) are chemicals that interfere with the normal functions of the endocrine system. EDCs are found in many household items such as cleaning products, insect controls, and certain cosmetics or personal care products. They’re also found in plastic containers, food- Can linings, carpets, and even industrial waste water.
When these chemicals enter the body, they can bind to and disrupt the normal activity of hormone receptors. Hormones are powerful messengers in the body and play a key role in regulating metabolic processes, growth and development, and reproductive functions. When exposure to EDCs disrupts this communication, it can lead to serious health problems.
For instance, exposure to EDCs during critical windows of hormonal development in fetal and infant stages of life can cause malformations in reproductive organs or reproductive function problems in adulthood. Additionally, exposure to EDCs during puberty and adulthood can increase the risk of reproductive cancers and other health problems. In women, long-term exposure to these endocrine disruptors may lead to increased risk of infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and breast cancer. In men, it may lead to increased risk of testicular cancer and infertility.
The evidence linking EDCs to health problems is increasing. Studies suggest that exposure to EDCs is concerning and that reducing or eliminating exposure is important in order to maintain good health. One way to reduce exposure is to avoid products with EDCs or use safer alternatives whenever possible. Additionally, properly disposing of household waste and avoiding single-use plastics and food containers can help reduce exposure to EDCs.