Chemicals can be the cause of many growing diseases

The report presents new evidence connecting endocrine disrupting chemicals, EDCs, and endocrine-related diseases that are on the rise. The diseases are increasing too quickly to be explained only by genetic factors.

Examples of diseases that have now been connected to EDCs are:

  • Cancer. Breast cancer, endometriosis, prostate cancer, testicular cancer and thyroid neoplasm are increasing.
  • Obesity and diabetes. Type 2 diabetes has more than doubled since 1980.
  • Low semen quality and genital abnormalities in young boys are increasingly common.
  • The incidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth and low birth weight, has increased in many countries.
  • Breast development. Earlier onset of breast development in young girls, which is a risk factor for breast cancer.
  • Thyroid disruptions causing behavioural disorders in children has increased over past decades.

Almost 800 chemicals have a known or suspected ability to disrupt hormone receptors or hormone production in the body. Some examples are PCB, phthalates, brominated flame retardants, metals such as lead and mercury as well as different pesticides. A small number have been prohibited when effects have been obvious, such as DDT and lead in petrol.

The 16 authors of the report state that more research is necessary to understand the exact connections between EDCs and diseases. One major difficulty is the fact that the chemicals in our surroundings are so numerous, and that ECDs can have additive effects that are not visible when researching one substance at a time. The report also states that new methods must be developed to increase knowledge of EDCs and reduce risk of diseases.

The human hormones are regulated by the endocrine organs, which produce over 50 different hormones. The most important are the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands and gonads.

Uppsala University