Sunday February 18, 2018

Endocrine Disruptors – The emerging public health concern

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By Dr. JK Bhutani

What is an Endocrine Disruptor: A chemical that interferes (or disrupts) with the formation, secretion or functioning of hormones (secreted by endocrine glands) in our body.

Endocrine disruptors, in our environment are a reality and are entering our bodies from the air we breathe, the ambiance we live in, and the food-water-beverages we take. These are far more dangerous than the PM (particulate matter of controversial Delhi’s odd-even fight). Soon it should be the next hot public health concern for the governments as the evidence, from the environment labs regarding their link with various chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, decreased fertility and some cancers, swells.

Many other developmental, reproductive, neural, immune, and other problems noted in laboratory animals may well be true for humans too. The Endocrine Society of US released a statement on ‘Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)’ recently specifically listing THEIR ROLE in obesity, diabetes, female reproduction, male reproduction, hormone-sensitive cancers in females, prostate cancer in males, thyroid, learning disabilities, attention-deficit-disorder, and some neuro-developmental abnormalities. The epidemic of diabetes and thyroid disorders in India and the role of these chemicals are not well researched but the link may well be more than conjectural.

 

What are the chemicals that make these Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are so ubiquitous! Every daily need from a toothpaste, soap, detergents, body-lotions, perfumes, food additives, potable water, vegetables, milk and stored cereals may contain residues of chemicals, pesticides and other adulterant toxins. The health effects are difficult to assess because of the fact that people are typically exposed to multiple endocrine disruptors simultaneously and the amount and the route of the chemical entering the system is variable.

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A wide and varied range of substances are implicated and some have definite proven role like diethylstilbestrol, dioxin, dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT, and some other pesticides. Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in  polycarbonate plastics, epoxy resins and other interior fixtures in homes and Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), used in packaging consumer foods are entering our systems from  our living rooms and kitchens. They are decoy silent invaders and slow killers of our immunity and defence.

Harmful effects

Endocrine Disruptors can interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body. The ‘survival and propagation’ and ‘homeostasis’ is built in our system and all the array of hormones from various endocrine glands like pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, testes-ovaries and other scattered endocrine tissues are tools of this process.

The ‘Fight-Flight Response’ and all the stress coping mechanisms are possible only with these hormones. The disruption of these vital molecules by the extraneous chemicals is quite logical and the evidence based modern medicine has just to corroborate it. The low dose, the wide multiple effects and the ubiquitous exposure makes endocrine disrupting chemicals difficult to handle.

Prevention

We cannot avoid these in current ‘anything-for-money’ times. The global markets and poor regulatory mechanisms of developing countries and global suppliers only add to the load of toxic exposures on us. A public awareness movement is needed to check the onslaught of harmful chemicals that may act as endocrine disruptors.

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A few useful tips in this regard are:

  • Eat only as much as you need! You will never repent eating less and you shall eat fewer toxins too.
  • Eat fresh and avoid preservative rich processed/packed foods. Grow some vegetables and fruit in your kitchen-garden. Wash the vegetables/fruits well, Wash grains and dry before use, Pool a cow and a farm if possible and Raise a voice for organic farming.
  • Do not use plastics for food cooking or serving. Avoid disposables. Finally, cook well and reject if you find any unpleasant odour.

 

Dr J.K. Bhutani, MD is a protagonist of preventive and promotive health care based on austere biology and facilitating self-healing powers of human organism. Twitter: @drjkbhutani

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Night Shifts May Raise Risk Of Diabetes

For the study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, the team examined data from more than 270,000 people, including 70,000 who provided in-depth lifetime employment information and a sub-group of more than 44,000 for whom genetic data were available

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The results showed that those with the highest genetic risk scores were almost four times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to individuals who had lower genetic risk scores. Pexels
The results showed that those with the highest genetic risk scores were almost four times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to individuals who had lower genetic risk scores. Pexels

Do you frequently work night shifts? Beware, you are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, a precursor to cardiovascular diseases, researchers have warned.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose).

The study found that people working irregular or rotating shifts with usual night shifts were 44 percent more likely to have Type 2 diabetes.

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“We see a dose-response relationship between a frequency of night shift work and Type 2 diabetes, where the more often people do shift work, the greater their likelihood of having the disease, regardless of genetic predisposition,” said Ceiine Vetter, Professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

In addition, compared to day workers, all shift workers were more likely to have Type 2 diabetes, except for permanent night shift workers, the researchers mentioned. Pexels
In addition, compared to day workers, all shift workers were more likely to have Type 2 diabetes, except for permanent night shift workers, the researchers mentioned. Pexels

“This helps us understand one piece of the puzzle: frequency of night shift work seems to be an important factor,” Vetter added.

For the study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, the team examined data from more than 270,000 people, including 70,000 who provided in-depth lifetime employment information and a sub-group of more than 44,000 for whom genetic data were available.

ALSO READ: 6 Foods You Should Mandatorily Avoid At Night

More than 6,000 people in the sample population had Type 2 diabetes.

Using the information on more than 100 genetic variants that are associated with Type 2 diabetes, the research team developed a genetic risk score that they used to assign a value to each participant.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the global prevalence of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7 percent to 8.5 percent in the adult population. The majority of people with diabetes are affected by Type 2 diabetes. (IANS)