Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Chemical exposure linked to rising diabetes, obesity risk
Emerging evidence ties endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure to two of the biggest public health threats facing society - diabetes and obesity, according to the executive summary of an upcoming Scientific Statement issued today by the Endocrine Society.
The statement's release comes as Society experts are addressing a global meeting, the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4), in Geneva, Switzerland, on the importance of using scientific approaches to limit health risks of EDC exposure.
The statement builds upon the Society's groundbreaking 2009 report, which examined the state of scientific evidence on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and the risks posed to human health. In the ensuing years, additional research has found that exposure is associated with increased risk of developing diabetes and obesity. Mounting evidence also indicates EDC exposure is connected to infertility, hormone-related cancers, neurological issues and other disorders.
EDCs contribute to health problems by mimicking, blocking or otherwise interfering with the body's natural hormones. By hijacking the body's chemical messengers, EDCs can alter the way cells develop and grow.
Known EDCs include bisphenol A (BPA) found in food can linings and cash register receipts, phthalates found in plastics and cosmetics, flame retardants and pesticides. The chemicals are so common that nearly every person on Earth has been exposed to one or more. An economic analysis published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in March estimated that EDC exposure likely costs the European Union €157 billion ($209 billion) a year in actual health care expenses and lost earning potential.
"The evidence is more definitive than ever before - EDCs disrupt hormones in a manner that harms human health," said Andrea C. Gore, Professor and Vacek Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the task force that developed the statement. "Hundreds of studies are pointing to the same conclusion, whether they are long-term epidemiological studies in human, basic research in animals and cells, or research into groups of people with known occupational exposure to specific chemicals."