More on Endocrine Disruption – Messing With Your Hormones

endocrine glandsTeachers of 5-8 graders are acutely aware that the kids’ hormones are often at a feverish pitch. A healthy level of testosterone and estrogen activates the lives of young adults.

Beyond these obvious facts, proper functioning of our ten or so endocrine glands, that secret about fifty hormones, is essential to a person’s health and vitality. What are the consequences when this system is disrupted? Let’s hear from an expert, Dr. Theo Colburn, founder of TEDX, the Endocrine Disruption Exchange. “Disorders of the endocrine system include learning disabilities and behavioral mood problems, infertility, abnormal gonad development, cancers of the reproductive organs, unusual pubertal onset, diabetes, obesity, allergic and asthma reactions, and more.”

Got your attention?

Fortunately, this issue – disruption of the hormone system – has caught the attention of the World Health Organization. In 2012 it published a sobering, detailed report, State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). I will quote from it.

  • Close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion.
  • Hormones play many critical roles in neurodevelopment, including the circuits that control sex-specific behavior and physiology. Data indicate that exposure of the fetus to hormone disruptors affects cognition in animal studies, and limited data indicate that sexual behaviors are also affected.
  • There are now animal data showing that embryonic exposure to EDCs or potential EDCs (e.g. tributyltin, BPA, some pesticides, lead, perfluorooctanoic acid, phthalates) leads to altered cholesterol metabolism, possible weight gain and type-2 diabetes in adulthood.
  • Epidemiological evidence suggests that several groups of common contaminants, including PCBs, brominated flame retardants, phthalates, BPA and perfluorinated chemicals, are associated with reduced serum thyroid hormone levels in humans.
  • It is increasingly clear that EDCs likely play a role in the rise in immune-related disorders in both humans and wildlife. Many immune disorders have well-established ties to the endocrine system, such that disruption of select endocrine pathways may disturb the immune response, potentially causing allergies, endometriosis, bone disorders, autoimmune thyroid disease and immune cancers.

If you want a simple up-to-date summary of endocrine disruptors, see the website of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group ( for their October 28, 2013 article, DIRTY DOZEN. It lists12 hormone-disrupting chemicals and has a short description of how to avoid them. I highly recommend this brief preventive article – it could make a difference in your health and that of your family.



About donlouis

The author has long had a keen interest in staying healthy and fit, and in doing whatever I can to keep the natural environment unpolluted and a healthy space for people and all animals. As a former Board Member of a municipal water district, I regularly had to deal with the issue of water quality. I first became aware of radiation hazards from toxic materials while working on uranium for nuclear reactors. During the 1960s I was tuned into the global hazard from Strontium 90 raining down from atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs. While working in the chemical industry in later years I became aware of the many forms of chemical contaminants entering the environment every day, and resolved to do something about it. I am able to make sense out of the voluminous descriptions of common toxic chemical because of my training in chemistry, with a Ph.D. degree and several decades of research and development work in the chemical industry. My training and experience enables me to present to readers reliable and current information on the topic of chemical hazards in the environment, and their threats to human health. All my life I have loved hiking and camping in nature. Skiing, river kayaking, and tennis have been my favorite physical activities. Nature photography is my artistic passion.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.