Wednesday, Sept 23rd, 2009
Hormone-disrupting chemicals found in a variety of consumer products are destroying male reproductive health, according to a report released by the nonprofit CHEM Trust.
An increasing number of widely used chemicals are being exposed as endocrine disruptors, many of them ingredients in plastics, cosmetics, cleaning products and even food. Most of these simulate the action of the female sex hormone estrogen.
According to report author Richard Sharpe of the Medical Research Council, long-term exposure to a wide variety of these chemicals is probably to blame, at least in part, for rising incidence of a condition known as Testicular Dysgenisis Syndrome (TDS). Exposure to endocrine disruptors can “feminize” male children even in the womb, he said, by blocking the activity of the male sex hormone testosterone
TDS refers to a collection of observed disorders of the male reproductive system, including reduced sperm counts, malformed penis and testicular cancer.
While exposure to one endocrine disruptor might not have a great effect, Sharpe said, there are so many different chemicals out there that their cumulative results must be taken into account.
“Because it is the summation of effect of hormone-disrupting chemicals that is critical, and the number of such chemicals that humans are exposed to is considerable, this provides the strongest possible incentive to minimize human exposure to all relevant hormone disruptors, especially women planning pregnancy, as it is obvious that the higher the exposure the greater the risk,” he said.
“Chemicals that have been shown to act together to affect male reproductive health should have their risks assessed together,” said Elizabeth Salter Green of the CHEM Trust. “Currently that is not the case, and unfortunately chemicals are looked at on an individual basis. Therefore, government assurances that exposures are too low to have any effect just do not hold water because regulators do not take into account the additive actions of hormone disrupting chemicals.”
“It is high time that public health policy is based on good science and that regulatory authorities have health protection, rather than industry protection, uppermost in mind,” she said.
Sources for this story include: news.bbc.co.uk.