Exposure to Endocrine-disrupting Chemicals Links to Rising Diabetes and Obesity Risk

New evidence ties endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure to two major health threats in society: diabetes and obesity, according to the Endocrine Society.

The Endocrine Society experts spoke on the issue after addressing the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) in Switzerland along with the importance of using scientific approaches to limit health risk of endocrine-disrupting chemicals exposure (EDC).

EDC is the contribution to the health problems that mimic, block and interface with the body’s natural hormones, because of the chemical messengers that are sent to the body, the EDCs can alter the way the cells in your body grow and develop.

Some of the known EDCs include bisphenol A, which is found in food can linings and cash register receipts; and phthalates, found in plastics, cosmetics and pesticides.

“The evidence is more definitive than ever before. EDCs disrupt hormones in a manner that harms human health,” said Andrea Gore, a pharmacology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the task force. “Hundreds of studies are pointing to the same conclusion, whether they are long-term studies in humans, basic research in animals and cells or research into groups of people with known occupational exposure to specific chemicals.”

According to the Endocrine Society, the threat is particularly great when unborn children are exposed to EDCs. Animal studies found that exposure to even tiny amounts of EDCs during the prenatal period can trigger obesity later in life.

“Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals during early development can have long-lasting, even permanent consequences,” said Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Liège in Belgium, in a press release.  “The science is clear and it’s time for policymakers to take this wealth of evidence into account as they develop legislation.”

In the statement, the Society calls for additional research for a more “cause-and-effect relationship” between EDC and health conditions, regulations to ensure that the chemicals are tested correctly and education for the public and policy makers to keep EDC out of food, water and air, as well as to protect unborn children from exposure.

“It’s kind of scary to know that the little things that we don’t even think about can affect us in so many ways,” said fourth-year biology student Tiona Settles, from Bradenton, Fla. “These organizations need to prevent the use of PVC and any other chemicals that may be affecting us.”

More research also continues to reveal that EDCs are related to breast and ovarian cancer, prostate conditions, thyroid disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders, according to Gore.

The Society will hold a Twitter chat on EDC exposure and associated health effects on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. ET.