Endocrine Disruption and Pesticides

The term "endocrine disruption" is quickly becoming a familiar one. Recent news regarding the ill effects of BPA (bisphenol A) brought the subject once again to the forefront. (The mycotoxins associated with toxic mold are linked to endocrine disruption, which makes the issue relevant to those recovering from a mold exposure.)

Pesticides have been implicated in recent years. The organization Beyond Pesticides is dedicated to the eradication of pesticides and now offers a database of pesticide-induced diseases, which facilitates access to epidemiologic and laboratory studies. In the article Wide Range of Diseases Linked to Pesticides, endocrine disruption is described this way:

Endocrine disruptors function by: (i) Mimicking the action of a naturally-produced hormone, such as estrogen or testosterone, thereby setting off similar chemical reactions in the body; (ii) Blocking hormone receptors in cells, thereby preventing the action of normal hormones; or (iii) Affecting the synthesis, transport, metabolism and excretion of hormones, thus altering the concentrations of natural hormones. Endocrine disruptors have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, early puberty, infertility and other reproductive disorders, and childhood and adult cancers. More than 50 pesticide active ingredients have been identified as endocrine disruptors by the European Union and endocrine disruptor expert Theo Colborn, PhD.

The organization TEDX (The Endocrine Disruption Exchange) focuses exclusively on the health and environmental problems caused by exposure to these and other chemicals. According to TEDX,

Most people are not aware of the thousands of pesticides and their formulations that are in use today, some of them in huge volumes and on huge acreages worldwide. They comprise acaricides, algicides, antifoulants, avicides, bactericides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, molluscicides, nematicides, piscicides, rodenticides, virucides, and the related plant and insect growth regulators; chemosterilants; bird, mammal and insect repellents, insect pheromones and other attractants. Product formulations may contain more than one active ingredient, as well as synergists, "safeners," and other ingredients formerly known as "inerts."

Our particular concern about pesticides is that they have been designed to disrupt biological systems, causing death to target organisms, such as insects or plants. Some actually work by acting on the endocrine systems of insects. The problem is that the biochemistry of most living things is similar enough that humans, wildlife and plants can also be adversely affected by pesticides.

In the past, much of the human and wildlife health-related research on pesticides has dealt with more or less immediate toxicity at relatively high doses, or has been concerned only with the primary mode of action of a single active ingredient in the pesticide product. In recent years, these concerns have broadened to include other possible actions of the ingredients, and testing at exposure levels more relevant to what may be in the environment.

TEDX has a list of endocrine disruption links and resources which is one of the most comprehensive lists I've seen on the issue of environmental health. The list can be viewed by clicking here.

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