Environmental chemicals have significant impacts on biological systems. Chemical exposures during early stages of development can disrupt normal patterns of development and thus dramatically alter disease susceptibility later in life. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) interfere with the body's endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic and immune effects in humans. A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption, including pharmaceuticals, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT and other pesticides, and components of plastics such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. EDCs are found in many everyday products--including plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food additives, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides. EDCs interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, activity, or elimination of natural hormones. This interference can block or mimic hormone action, causing a wide range of effects. This review focuses on the mechanisms and modes of action by which EDCs alter hormone signaling. It also includes brief overviews of select disease endpoints associated with endocrine disruption.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.