What are Endocrine Disruptors?

The Endocrine System and Hormones

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Endocrine disruptors are toxins, chemicals and poisons, as well as naturally occurring compounds that interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system (hormonal system) and its hormones. Since the endocrine system regulates hormonal communication throughout the body, it is important to be aware of endocrine saboteurs, so to prevent unnecessary exposure. With the abiliity to turn on, shut off, or alter signals that our hormones are responsible for carrying, the end result is that endocrine disruptors can affect the normal functioning of tissues and organs in the body.

Every single human being on this earth, regardless of age, race, or financial status is at risk of experiencing endocrine disruption. It is virtually impossible to prevent 100% exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals since they are present everywhere. They can be found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and in the products we consume.

Being so critical to the regulation of various functions in the body, the endocrine system and its functionality is important to maintain throughout life. The endocrine glands are responsible for communicating vital information throughout the body to organs, tissues and cells so that we can achieve homeostasis. This includes the regulation of our growth, immunity, sexual reproduction, the brain and its neurological pathways, 

Awareness begins getting educated on what and where endocrine disrupting chemicals are found. We must then make the appropriate lifestyle adjustments, alongside eating a well balanced, healthy diet , reducing unnecessary stress, increasing physical activity, and getting quality sleep.

Common endocrine disruptors are found in everyday consumable products:

Canned food and beverages
Plastic bottles, BPA plastic and plastic containers
Flame retardants typically found in mass marketed furniture
Paper receipts and money

How do endocrine disruptors affect the human body?


How endocrine disruptors contribute to the destruction of our hormonal system.

  • Some chemicals can mimic a natural hormone. By doing so, it fools the body into over-responding to a stimulus. 
  • Some endocrine disruptors can modify the timing that certain hormones are released. This could mean a hormone is released when it is unnecessary.
  • There are endocrine disrupting chemicals that block the effects of a hormone from certain receptors.
  • Some endocrine disrupting agents stimulate or inhibit the endocrine system. These end up causing an overproduction or underproduction of hormones.
  • Endocrine disruptors can alter how various organs function.
  • They may change the secretion rate of hormones, altering how much a particular hormone gets secreted, and then modifying the outcome of the hormone’s messaging.

Health Related Issues 

We are exposed to these endocrine disrupting agents daily and receive them from multiple sources. In 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report, co-produced with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). This report outlined the health-related issues that have been found directly attributable to exposure to these endocrine disrupting chemicals, including:

  • ADHD and Autism
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Disturbances in the immune system development and function
  • Developmental and reproductive malformations such as non-descended testes in that of young males
  • Disruption of a growing child’s nervous system development

  • Endocrine Disruptors. (2018). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Retrieved 9 November 2018, from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/exposure/endocrine/index.cfm
  • Endocrine Disruptors Research. (2018). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Retrieved 9 November 2018, from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/programs/endocrine/index.cfm
  • Thaddeus T. Schug, Anne F. Johnson, Linda S. Birnbaum, Theo Colborn, Louis J. Guillette, David P. Crews, Terry Collins, Ana M. Soto, Frederick S. vom Saal, John A. McLachlan, Carlos Sonnenschein, Jerrold J. Heindel; Minireview: Endocrine Disruptors: Past Lessons and Future Directions, Molecular Endocrinology, Volume 30, Issue 8, 1 August 2016, Pages 833–847,
  • Thompson, P. A., Khatami, M., Baglole, C. J., Sun, J., Harris, S. A., Moon, E. Y., Al-Mulla, F., Al-Temaimi, R., Brown, D. G., Colacci, A., Mondello, C., Raju, J., Ryan, E. P., Woodrick, J., Scovassi, A. I., Singh, N., Vaccari, M., Roy, R., Forte, S., Memeo, L., Salem, H. K., Amedei, A., Hamid, R. A., Lowe, L., Guarnieri, T., … Bisson, W. H. (2015). Environmental immune disruptors, inflammation and cancer risk. Carcinogenesis, 36 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S232-53.
  • ‘Vandenberg, L. N., Colborn, T., Hayes, T. B., Heindel, J. J., Jacobs, D. R., Lee, D. H., Shioda, T., Soto, A. M., vom Saal, F. S., Welshons, W. V., Zoeller, R. T., … Myers, J. P. (2012). Hormones and endocrine-disrupting chemicals: low-dose effects and nonmonotonic dose responses. Endocrine reviews, 33(3), 378-455.
  • Kuo, C., Yang, S., Kuo, P., & Hung, C. (2012). Immunomodulatory effects of environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals. The Kaohsiung Journal Of Medical Sciences, 28(7), S37-S42. doi:10.1016/j.kjms.2012.05.008
  • Meeker JD. Exposure to Environmental Endocrine Disruptors and Child Development. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(10):952–958. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.241
  • Soto, A. M., & Sonnenschein, C. (2010). Environmental causes of cancer: endocrine disruptors as carcinogens. Nature reviews. Endocrinology, 6(7), 363-70.
  • Diamanti-Kandarakis, E., Bourguignon, J. P., Giudice, L. C., Hauser, R., Prins, G. S., Soto, A. M., Zoeller, R. T., … Gore, A. C. (2009). Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: an Endocrine Society scientific statement. Endocrine reviews, 30(4), 293-342.  
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