Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

By | 2 March 2021

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are chemicals that are taken from outside and interact with hormones that are responsible for homeostasis, reproduction, and development in the human body and change their synthesis, secretion, transport, metabolism, binding effect, or elimination.

Among this wide range of natural or man-made degrading agents, there are pharmacological drugs, dioxin, and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT and other pesticides, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A. Endocrine disruptors can be counted in many daily used products such as plastic bottles, metal food boxes, detergents, flame retardants, foods, toys, cosmetics and insecticides (pesticides). Health studies have shown that exposure to endocrine disruptors can lead to reduced fertility, increased endometriosis, and some types of cancer in human health. Studies have shown that exposure to endocrine disruptors poses the highest risk during prenatal and early postnatal development when organs and neural systems are formed.

How do endocrine disruptors work?

  1. They can mimic natural hormones in whole or in part. For example, they may mimic the female sex hormone estrogen, androgen, and thyroid hormones, which are the male sex hormones, and cause them to exert excessive influence.
  2. It binds to the receptor responsible for the hormone to act in the cell, thus preventing the hormone made by the body from binding to its own receptor, so the normal signal is not formed enough and makes it difficult for the body to respond normally. For example anti-estrogens or anti-androgens.
  3. Receptors that affect the path of action of natural hormones can be made, thus changing the metabolism of these hormones in the liver.

Some examples of endocrine disruptors

Many chemicals are thought to cause endocrine disruption. These include diethylstilbestrol (synthetic estrogen), dioxin and disks in-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT, and other base pesticides. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a widely and intensely used chemical product in the production of epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics. It has been explained that Bisphenol A has effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate in fetuses, babies, and children. Di (2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is a chemical widely used in food packaging, children’s products, and some medical devices made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Phytoestrogens are usually naturally occurring substances in plants and show hormone-like activity. Examples of phytoestrogens include Genistein and Daidzein. These are particularly abundant in soy-derived products.

Important Issues in Endocrine Disruptors

Age of exposure

Exposure to EBK in adulthood will have different results than exposure while a baby or a fetus.

Late effect

Exposure in the early period of life does not cause any deterioration immediately and can cause illness in adulthood.

Transmission from generation to generation and epigenetic effects

Endocrine disruptors can affect not only affected individuals but also their children and future generations. Recent evidence has shown that some transitions are not genomic and are not caused by a mutation in DNA. On the contrary, it can also occur as a result of changes in the factors that regulate gene function such as DNA methylation and histone acetylation, which is called epigenetics.

Endocrine Disruptor Examples


They have an estrogenic or anti-estrogenic effect. It has estrogenic effects in men and anti-estrogenic effects in women.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

It is a ubiquitous Xenoestrogen. The widespread use of BPA provides both indirect effects on the growing fetus and the exposure of the mother, as well as exposure to tinned food, baby food, and breast milk. BPA is a synthetic monomer and is widely used in the production of polycarbonate plastics, epoxy resins.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB)

They are fat-soluble organic compounds. It accumulates in fat deposits in the human body. It has estrogenic and anti-androgenic effects.

UV filters

Sunglasses with UV light filters contain estrogenic activity. It has been claimed that early exposure to UV filters in rats may be associated with prostate cancer.


It has an estrogen-like effect. Some large-scale studies have shown that there may be an association between cadmium exposure and prostate cancer.


It is associated with a range of diseases, including cancer.


It is a fungicide used in crops. It has been shown to interact with androgen activity.