Endocrine disrupters

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Endocrine disrupters: chemicals or natural compounds that can interfere with the actions of hormones. Such chemicals have been known for decades, e.g. natural goitrogens (compounds in many plant species of Cruciferae-family that interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis), and many drugs that cause changes in the levels of pituitary hormone prolactin. Some PCBs and their metabolites bind to thyroid hormone binding protein and interfere with its function. Presently there is interest in many countries in chemicals that might interfere with the activity of sex hormones. p,p'-DDE, a metabolite of DDT is an antiandrogen: it antagonizes the effects of testosterone (male sex hormone). Estrogenic (female sex hormone) and antiestrogenic risks from the environment are less well characterised, but environmental chemicals have been implied to cause "feminisation" or "demasculinisation". In waterways the most important estrogenic compounds (e.g. causing sexual disturbances in fish) seem to be natural estrogens from humans and animals, and synthetic estrogens from contraceptive pills. Synthetic chemicals with postulated endocrine disrupting activity include phthalates, bisfenols, alkoxyphenols, organochlorine insecticides, some detergents, PCBs, and PCDD/Fs. Their effects on human male disorders (such as testis cancer, hypospadias, and semen quality) are under investigation, but so far there is no unambiguous evidence. [1]


  1. Jouko Tuomisto, Terttu Vartiainen and Jouni T. Tuomisto: Dioxin synopsis. Report. National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), ISSN 1798-0089 ; 14/2011 [1]