A universal framework for evaluating the potential health risks posed to humans by endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), is outlined in a Consensus Statement published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology this week.
EDCs are chemicals that interfere with hormone action, and thus can impact health risks, including for cancer, reproductive impairment, cognitive deficits and obesity. All humans have been exposed to EDCs, but despite many individual studies on the potential hazards of EDC exposure, there is no widely accepted, systematic method to integrate these data to help to identify EDC hazards. This lack of consensus has led to confusion among regulatory bodies, which has resulted in people being exposed to potentially dangerous EDCs.
Inspired by efforts to improve hazard identification of carcinogens, Michele La Merrill and 15 co-authors propose a set of ten key characteristics of EDCs based on data on hormone actions and EDC effects. For example, one key characteristic states that EDCs can interact with or activate hormone receptors, while another states that EDCs can antagonize hormone receptors. The authors also reflect on how their ten key characteristics can be applied to identify, organize and use mechanistic data when evaluating chemicals as EDCs, taking as an example bisphenol A (BPA), for which there is substantial evidence for nine of the ten key characteristics.
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