The findings of four articles recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism were presented on March 5 at a press briefing held at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, ENDO 2015, Despite the incredible public health implications of these four studies little has been reported in the popular press.
I have previously discussed the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen toxic chemicals | Practical Evolutionary Health as well as the impact of environmental toxins on our epidemic of auto-immune disease Babies born with more than 200 toxic chemicals in their blood | Practical Evolutionary Health .
The press briefing and the findings of these four studies were reported on-line Endocrine Disruptors Cause Range of Diseases; Cost 157 Billion Euros
The estimated health effects of pesticides, chemicals used in personal care products, aluminum can liners, flame retardants in clothing, mattresses, furniture, etc., included the following
- 59,300 infants born with intellectual disability
- 28,200 people aged 50-64 years with type 2 diabetes
- 13 million lost IQ points in each EU country
From Phtalates used in food wraps, cosmetics, shampoos, vinyl flooring
- 24,800 deaths among 55-64 year old men
- 618,000 additional assisted-reproductive technology procedures to treat infertility
- excess of obesity and diabetes among women aged 50 to 64
Flame retardants in electronics, furniture, mattresses:
- 3290 intellectually disabled children
- 873,000 lost IQ points
- 6830 cases of testicular cancer
- 4615 children born with undescended testes
Other estimates from endocrine disruptors included:
- 316 autistic 8 year olds EACH YEAR
- 31,200 ten year olds with ADHD
Here are some snippets from the on-line Medscape report.The economic costs are reported in Euros since this was a study of European data. Bear in mind that the European Union has more stringent environmental protection than the United States. As a result, a study using US data would likely show even greater damage.
The papers cover overall costs of selected disorders attributed to specific endocrine-disrupting chemicals, as well as more detailed analyses of costs related to endocrine-disrupter–linked obesity and diabetes, neurobehavioral deficits/disease, and male reproductive disorders/diseases.
“Limiting our exposure to the most widely used and potentially hazardous endocrine-disrupting chemicals is likely to produce substantial economic benefit,” lead author of the overview study, Leonardo Trasande, MD, from New York University, said at the briefing.
The European Union defines an endocrine-disrupting chemical as an “exogenous substance that causes adverse health effects in an intact organism or its progeny, secondary to changes in endocrine function.”
With exposures occurring via pharmaceuticals, industrial solvents, personal-care products, aluminum-can linings, plasticizers, pesticides, and environmental pollutants, chemicals known to be endocrine disrupting include diethylstilbestrol, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) , dioxins, perfluoroalkyl compounds, solvents, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene organophosphate/organochlorine pesticides, and polybrominated diphenyl.
Affected hormones include estrogen, androgen, thyroid, retinol, aryl hydrocarbon, and the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) pathway. In all, 13 chronic conditions have strong scientific evidence for causation by endocrine-disrupting chemicals, Dr Trasande said.
“There are safe and simple steps that families can take to limit their exposure to endocrine-disruptive chemicals. They can avoid microwaving plastic. They can avoid eating from aluminum cans or drinking fluids from aluminum cans. They can eat organic. Or even simply air out their homes every couple of days to remove some of the chemical dust…that can disrupt hormones in their bodies.”
Using estimates based on the literature and established statistical methods adapted from those used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Trasande led a 12-member scientific steering committee, which determined that there was probable causation of endocrine-disrupting chemicals for IQ loss and associated intellectual disability, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), childhood obesity, adult obesity, adult diabetes, cryptorchidism, male infertility, and mortality associated with reduced testosterone.
Using mid-point estimates for probability of causation, the panel calculated a median cost of €157 billion, or 1.23% of the EU gross domestic product, with a lower median range of €119 billion and a high end estimate of €270 billion.
Dr Trasande summarized results from the four papers at the briefing, including these data points:
- By health effect, the greatest cost was for neurological problems, including ADHD, at €132 billion. By endocrine-disrupting chemical type, pesticides were the most costly, accounting for €120 billion.
- Pesticides accounted for 13 million lost IQ points in each EU country, costing €124 billion in earning potential. They were also responsible for 59,300 infants born with intellectual disability (€24.6 million), and 28,200 people aged 50-64 years with type 2 diabetes, at a cost of €835 million.
- Phthalates, used in food wraps, cosmetics, shampoos, and vinyl flooring, resulted in 24,800 additional deaths among 55- to 64-year-old men, costing €7.96 billion in lost economic productivity; and 618,000 additional assisted-reproductive-technology procedures, costing €4.71 billion, Dr Trasande reported. Phthalates also accounted for an excess of obesity and diabetes among women aged 50 to 64, totaling more than €15.6 billion.
- Flame retardants used in electronics, furniture, and mattresses resulted in 873,000 lost IQ points, leading to €8.4 billion in lost earning potential; 3290 intellectually disabled children, costing an additional €1.9 billion; 6,830 new cases of testicular cancer, at €850 million; and 4615 children born with undescended testes, at €130 million.
- Other estimates of burden and disease and costs include 316 autistic 8-year-olds each year from multiple endocrine disrupting chemicals, costing €199 million; 31,200 10-year-olds with ADHD (also from multiple endocrine-disrupting chemicals), at €1.7 billion; and BPA used in aluminum-can linings and thermal-paper receipts, being associated with 42,400 obese 4-year-olds at an annual cost of €1.54 billion.
Dr Trasande said that a similar analysis for the United States would be “the logical next step” and that he would anticipate analogous findings, although there are some differences. Brominated flame retardants are more stringently limited in Europe, for example, but levels of phthalates have decreased 17% to 37% in the United States between 2001 and 2010.
Keep in mind that these studies were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. They do not represent a governmental agency report, which is frequently tainted by the influence of lobbyists and scientists with conflicts of interest. Whether the European governments respond to this data in a meaningful way remains to be seen. Given the Republican majority in both the US Congress and US Senate as well as the sad state of journalism in the US it is likely that this scientific data will fall on deaf ears.
Nevertheless, we all have the opportunity to educate ourselves about these dangers to the health of our families and make changes in our daily lives that might limit the damage to our personal health and the health of those we love.
Do not drink water from plastic bottles. Do not drink soda or fruit juices from plastic or aluminum containers. Do not microwave food in plastic containers or store warm food in plastic containers. Eat organic vegetables and fruits whenever possible and avoid especially non-organic produce from the Dirty Dozen
Despite the manufacturers claims to the contrary, BPA used to line aluminum cans is not safe, same for BPA used in thermal paper receipts. “BPA free” hard plastic containers and metal containers lined with BPA replacements will likely prove to be unsafe in the future.
That “new-car” smell and “new-furniture” smell may contain endocrine disrupting flame retardants off-gassing. So open your windows and get rid of those odors, use HEPA air-filters at home. Consider having your old furniture reupholstered instead of buying new furniture. Apply only safe personal care products to your body (visit the EWG website for more information)Consumer Products | Environmental Working Group
Live clean, eat clean.