Endocrine disruptive substances affect more than puberty, sexual function and reproduction. Hormones, produced in the endocrine glands, are the bodys own signal substances. They work as messengers between cells and organs, stimulating or checking processes in the body. The problem with endocrine disruptive substances is that they are similar to the bodys own hormones. When they replace the hormones in the cells, important information is hindered. The body will not function as well as it used to, and with time we fall ill.
Youngsters the most sensitive
In intense periods of development, like in the fetal stage, in early childhood or in puberty, we are particularly vulnerable to the ”false messengers” of endocrine disruptors. Some damages may appear quite soon, like low birthweight, congenital malformations, allergies or learning disabilities. Others will show up decades later, like fertility problems or reductions in the immune system.
Diagnoses in a row
A lot of diagnoses have been associated with our increased exposure to endocrine disruptive substances, like premature puberty, reduced concentration of sperm and difficulties getting pregnant. But also cancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, reduced development of the brain, learning disabilities, thyroid problems and osteoporosis, just to take a few examples.
Strangely enough we get used to it. Many of these diagnoses have became so common we see them as normal parts of being human.
Tiny doses could be the worst
Different chemicals affect the body in different ways. Most toxic substances grow more dangerous relative to the dose, like heavy metals or corrosive liquids in childproof bottles. Endocrine disrupters seem to work differently. They may be even more harmful in negligible quantities, since that’s how real hormones naturally operate and communicate in the body. The danger of exposure is more a question of timing than of quantity of substance: the wrong message – or no message at all – in the middle of an important process could lead to fatal consequences, and can affect living creatures for many generations to come.