Endocrine disruptors linked to PCa, cryptorchidism

February 25, 2013

Many synthetic chemicals, untested for their disrupting effects on the hormone system, may have significant health implications, including contributing to the development of prostate cancer in men and undescended testes in young males.

Many synthetic chemicals, untested for their disrupting effects on the hormone system, may have significant health implications, including contributing to the development of prostate cancer in men and undescended testes in young males.

A study by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization calls for more research to fully understand the associations between endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)-found in many household and industrial products-and specific diseases and disorders. The report notes that with more comprehensive assessments and better testing methods, potential disease risks could be reduced, with substantial savings to public health.

The results highlight some associations between exposure to EDCs and health problems, including the potential for such chemicals to contribute to the development of cryptorchidism in young males, prostate cancer, breast cancer in women, developmental effects on the nervous system in children, attention deficit/hyperactivity in children, and thyroid cancer.

"We urgently need more research to obtain a fuller picture of the health and environment impacts of endocrine disruptors," said Maria Neira, MD, of the World Health Organization.

The study makes a number of recommendations to improve global knowledge of these chemicals, reduce potential disease risks, and cut related costs. These include:

  • the addition of comprehensive testing methods to identify possible endocrine disruptors, their sources, and routes of exposure

  • more scientific evidence to identify the effects of mixtures of EDCs on humans and wildlife (mainly from industrial by-products) to which humans and wildlife are increasingly exposed

  • improvement on reporting and information on chemicals in products, materials, and goods

  • more data sharing between scientists and between countries to fill gaps in data, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies.