Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) could be at least partly responsible for rising rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity, according to new research.
The findings, published in the executive summary of an upcoming Scientific Statement issued by the Endocrine Society, also builds on research that connects EDC exposure to infertility and some types of cancer.
EDCs are chemicals that affect the body’s natural hormone production, which can interfere with the development of cells. EDCs are found in cash register receipts, plastics, cosmetics and pesticides. Almost everyone will have been exposed to EDCs at some point. An analysis published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that Europe spends 157 billion Euros on health problems associated with EDC exposure.
“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.
“Hundreds of studies are pointing to the same conclusio, whether they are long-term epidemiological studies in humans, basic research in animals and cells, or research into groups of people with known occupational exposure to specific chemicals.”
One of the health conditions most commonly linked to EDC exposure is type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that exposing unborn children to EDCs can increase the risk of obesity later in life, which increases the likelihood of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
EDC exposure has also been linked to hormone-related cancers such as ovarian and breast cancer, as well as thyroid disorders and neurodevelopmental issues.
Gore said: “It is clear we need to take action to minimise further exposure. With more chemicals being introduced into the marketplace all the time, better safety testing is needed to identify new EDCs and ensure they are kept out of household goods.”
The statement calls for more research into the subject, with the aim of establishing a causal link. Current research only indicates correlation. It also calls for greater testing of products to determine their endocrine-disrupting effects, and encourages policymakers to come up with new ways to keep EDCs out of food, water and the air.
The findings will be presented at the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference looks at new scientific approaches to addressing the risks associated with endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure.

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