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Gore, Endocrine Society Issue Hormone Warning

A report published this week by the Endocrine Society and co-authored by Dr. Andrea Gore of the College of Pharmacy warns that hormone-like chemicals in plastics, pesticides and other products pose a significant concern for public health.

The "Scientific Statement," the first ever released by the Endocrine Society, stated that there is strong evidence that hormone-disrupting chemicals can cause serious health problems, including infertility, cancer and malformations.

Gore, who holds the Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Professorship, said the society decided to release a statement because hormone-disrupting chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) affect everyone.

BPA, which is often referred to as the "everywhere chemical," is often used in plastic baby bottles and in the linings of metal cans. The society points to a study that says 93 percent of Americans tested have been exposed to BPA. In addition, BPA is only one of many chemicals, including pesticides, plastics and plasticizers, that are in widespread use.

The body is very sensitive to hormones and even small doses of environmental toxicants can cause serious problems, said Gore, "especially if babies are exposed during critical development windows, such as before birth or in infancy.

"For hormones, the timing of exposure is often far more critical than the amount."

Gore added that the damage from hormone-disrupting chemicals can sometimes be passed on to future generations.

Founded in 1916, the Endocrine Society is the world's oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology.

Gore's research focuses on the mechanisms by which the brain controls reproductive development and aging, and on how endocrine disrupting compounds can perturb these processes.

A growing number of scientific groups are now warning of the potential harm of BPA, which Canada declared last year to be toxic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe. The U.S. National Toxicology Program last year, however, expressed some concern over BPA's effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland in children before and after birth.

Last Reviewed: June 16, 2009

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