Scientists have described the cancer-causing effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which have hormone-like effects in the body. The researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine said that although the health-threatening effects are known to a vast extent, more complex strategies for studying how these chemicals affect health are required.

“The strength and breadth of existing research on the negative effects of EDCs, including bisphenol A, warrants immediate action to reduce EDC exposure, particularly among the developing fetus and women of reproductive age,” said author Carlos Sonnenschein, MD, professor in the department of anatomy and cellular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM).

Experts say that studies in rodents show that EDCs can cause harm if exposure happens during organ formation as opposed to exposures during adulthood.

“The evidence indicates that exposure to BPA and other EDCs may contribute to diseases that manifest during adult life, such as increased cancer rates in the industrialized world. These chemicals have also been linked to obesity, altered behavior, and infertility,” said author Ana Soto, MD, professor in the department of anatomy and cellular biology at TUSM.

BPA, which is found in plastic bottles, reusable food containers, and food cans, is ubiquitous in industrialized nations and is linked to cancer.

“EDCs act additively and their effects are dependent upon exposure and context, making them inherently complex to study. New mathematical modeling tools and computer simulations will provide a more precise understanding of how these chemicals interact with each other and within the body at different stages of life,” said Sonnenschein.

The article is published online on May 25 in Nature Reviews Endocrinology.

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