Hormone-Altering Chemicals
Fertility and Health Implications

Summary

HORMONE-ALTERING CHEMICALS: Fertility and Health Implications
Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Many of the products we use every day — drinking bottles, cosmetics, furniture, toys — can contain endocrine disruptors, chemicals that affect human health by altering the body’s natural hormones. Pregnancy and fetal development represent an especially sensitive life stage that may be uniquely vulnerable to the effects of endocrine disruptors, and the passage of a major overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act — the first such update in 40 years —provided the EPA with new power to review chemical safety and protect biologically vulnerable groups like women and children. What do we know about endocrine disruptors and their impact on reproduction, fertility and pregnancy? How do racial and ethnic differences influence our exposure to these chemicals and their impacts, and how can policymakers work to minimize their proliferation? In this Forum, scientists came together with policy experts to discuss the latest research on endocrine disruptors, risk management and recommendations for regulation decision-making.
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Presented jointly with The Huffington Post

Background Articles

Image Credit: iStock: FooTToo

  • Hughspeaks

    I’m currently trying to highlight the fact that there are a large number of people with various chronic health problems caused by being prenatally exposed to synthetic hormones. These are manmade substances used as medicines that mimic the action of the hormones that occur naturally in the human body.

    Most synthetic hormones were first developed in the years during and immediately after WW2, at a time when safety testing was minimal and drugs were rushed to market more or less as soon as the pharmaceutical companies figured out how to manufacture them in bulk. Having already entered clinical use, there’s been no proper review of their safety in the years since.

    From what I’ve seen, prenatal exposure to them can produce a wide range of abnormalities, which can include obvious physical abnormalities if exposure occurs early in pregnancy, but more commonly involves quite subtle things that aren’t immediately obvious at all. These problems include disrupted endocrine function, fertility disorders and gender dysphoria. I invite people reading this to check out my page:
    https://www.facebook.com/synthetichormonesaredangerous/

  • The Forum Moderator

    Welcome everyone. Our event will start in a few minutes.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We are about to begin.

  • The Forum Moderator

    Stay with us. We are making some adjustments to our cameras.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We have begun. Thank you for your patience.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We are so glad that you can join us today. This event is being presented jointly with The Huffington Post.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We will have a Q&A at the end of this event. If you have questions for our panelists, email them to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu or post them here.

  • The Forum Moderator

    This event also is part of the Andelot Series on Current Science Controversies.

  • FoodSleuth

    One quarter of pregnancies have a problem? Did I hear this correctly? This seems remarkably high. Can you tell us more about this? What was the problem rate 20 years ago?

    • The Forum Moderator

      Thanks for the question. I have passed it along for the Q&A.

  • The Forum Moderator

    This clip is courtesy of Environmental Working Group. We thank them for letting us show this.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We thank all of our panelists for joining us today.

  • The Forum Moderator

    This clip is courtesy of the Environmental Defense Fund.

  • The Forum Moderator

    Post your questions for the panelists here or email them to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu.

  • What types of solutions have a greater impact? Cutting down on animal fats, swapping out personal care or working on your furniture, carpet and pans? Can you rank the exposure dangers?

    • The Forum Moderator

      Thank you for the question. I have passed it along.

  • The Forum Moderator

    This video will be posted on demand on this website in the next day or two. The video also will be posted to YouTube and Facebook.

  • BuddyBrown

    What’s the state of affairs with regard to the study of the relationship, if any, between endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our environment and autism?

  • The Forum Moderator

    Our event will be ending in about five minutes.

  • Aviva Bock

    What about the chemicals in vaccines which are being given to infants ? How might they be connected to the spate of childhood issues , food learning, diagnoses etc that we are now seeing?

  • The Forum Moderator

    Our event is drawing to a close. We will ask our panelists to come here and respond to questions that we were unable to ask due to time.

  • The Forum Moderator

    You can watch this discussion again when we post the video on demand on this site in the next 2 days. You can also watch it on YouTube. Or listen to the audio on SoundCloud.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We thank you again for joining us today. Join us again on February 27, 12:30pm ET, when we will talk about The 21st Century Cures Act.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We also thank The Huffington Post and our panelists.

  • Kristen Lally

    QUESTION FROM EMAIL

    I was stunned to learn that most chemicals like these used in products are not fully tested by the. Even the new changes to TSCA (Tasca) don’t fundamentally change this – they just call for prioritization of chemicals for testing. With our new president in place this slow and problematic process is only going to get worse – there are 80,000 chemicals in products that have yet to be tested and thousands more coming out each year. What’s the best strategy to pursue for regulation in the current climate given all of this?

  • Moderator

    What about scented, fabric-softening sheets to put into clothes dryers? Even when they’re just sitting in the box waiting to be used the scent can be overwhelming, and when they are in the dryer, the exhaust powerfully scents the outdoors for pedestrians walking by and wafts into open widows. I understand these items often contain phthalates (tha-lates) as well as other possibly harmful chemicals.

  • Moderator

    I’ve been reading about acetaminophen and its threat as a hormone disruptor – recent studies suggest that it can affect prenatal development when used during pregnancy. Do you think this is a significant risk that the public should be aware of?

  • Moderator

    Are endocrine disruptors a main cause of male breast cancer, especially for men who work in the construction trades?

  • Moderator

    It’s very disturbing to hear about substances like BPA being replaced by BPS, which has its own harmful effects. This type of situation where a dangerous chemical is replaced by one with a similar molecular structure can only lead to further health problems. It seems to me that much could be done by addressing just this one problem through new regulations that apply to a group of related substances to that one dangerous chemical can’t be substituted for another. What is the issue here – is the pharma companies, the lack of EPA regulation? What can consumers do to apply pressure in the right place?

  • Moderator

    Are there natural substances that can disrupt the endocrine system that we should be aware of, as opposed to man-made chemicals?

  • Moderator

    There seem to be definitive studies of girls starting puberty earlier, the studies are not as well established with boys. But it seems clear that EDC’s are mimicking estrogen in the case with girls. What is the basic advice that we can give parents to help avoid these exposures in our daughters? Avoiding BPA in plastics of course and that sort of thing. But what about antibiotics in dairy and meat products? And is estrogen the only problem? Given the chemical soup we’re living in how can we hope to isolate all the issues, for both girls and boys?

  • Moderator

    It’s hard to grasp the many sources of these exposures. Can you summarize the main sources of known EDCs in terms of priority, and are there other sources you would rank as priorities that are just becoming known?

  • Moderator

    What is the state of knowledge on long term use of hormonal birth control on women’s health and fetal developmental? And what do we know of endocrine disrupting chemicals on gender dysphoria?

  • Moderator

    How does industry justify the so-called “fragrance” ingredient loophole? Are there consumer benefits to ingredient secrecy?

  • Moderator

    My question is knowing that these chemicals are hormone-altering and the standard American diet is considered unhealthy. Is it possible that we can circumvent the effects of this hormone-altering chemicals by modifying our diets to include healthier food options?

  • Moderator

    Hello!

    I am eager to learn about the relationship between insecticides currently being applied at higher and higher levels in the agricultural setting and their effects on children in utero as well as Mom. For years, I have been particularly interested in learning about low income mother and childrens’ inequitable exposure to foods contaminated by EDCs, namely glyphosate, (e.g. cheap and heavily processed foods containing byproducts of GM ‘food’stuffs).

    I’d appreciate very much being directed to scholars and relevant research as this is a research topic I am increasingly passionate about.

    Thank you for orchestrating this timely forum.

  • Hilda Mendoza

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