Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) also known as hormone disruptors are chemicals which interfere with the natural hormones in our bodies, our body’s chemical messengers.
As our hormones are released by the endocrine glands, these chemicals are sometimes also called endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs. This means they interfere with how our bodies function, causing problems with reproduction, behaviour, brain function and the immune system. Some research suggests that they can do this even if we are exposed to extremely small amounts (the so-called ‘low dose’ effect).
EDCs have the ability to mimic our hormones or interfere with the hormonal systems, in particular with the thyroid hormones and sex hormones.
EDCs can be found in:
- Preservatives such as certain parabens in e.g. cosmetics and household cleaners;
- Plastic softeners such as some phthalates in e.g. flooring and shoes;
- Bisphenol-A used to make polycarbonate plastic for e.g. DVDs, and used in food cans and in thermal paper
These hormone disruptors have been linked with several health problems including the deterioration of male reproductive health, the increased incidence of hormone related cancers and the increase in cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.
Still not clear? Look at the video below to see how BPA, an EDC, may increase the risk of breast cancer. This video was developed by Breast Cancer UK, one of the members of the coalition. It also gives you helpful tips for reducing your exposure.
Browse through the icons on the left hand side of the page to find out more about where you would find them at your work, your home… and how you can avoid exposure.