Saturday July 21, 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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Obesity Alone Does not Increase Death Risk: Study

Earlier, a study, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, found that women with metabolically healthy obesity were at 39 per cent higher risk of cardiovascular disease

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The researchers looked at how many people within each group died as compared to those within the normal weight population with no metabolic risk factors.
The researchers looked at how many people within each group died as compared to those within the normal weight population with no metabolic risk factors. Pixabay

Patients who have metabolically healthy obesity but are free from other metabolic risk factors do not have an increased rate of mortality, a new study has found.

Metabolically healthy obesity is a debatable medical condition characterized by obesity which does not produce metabolic complications.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Obesity, showed that unlike dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes — each one of which is related to high mortality risk — obesity alone does not pose any threat to life.

“We are showing that individuals with metabolically healthy obesity are actually not at an elevated mortality rate,” said lead author Jennifer Kuk, Associate Professor at the York University in Canada.

“We found that a person of normal weight with no other metabolic risk factors is just as likely to die as the person with obesity and no other risk factors,” Kuk added.

Metabolically healthy obesity is a debatable medical condition characterized by obesity which does not produce metabolic complications.
Metabolically healthy obesity is a debatable medical condition characterized by obesity which does not produce metabolic complications. Pixabay

For the study, the research team followed 54,089 men and women from five cohort studies who were categorized as having obesity alone or clustered with a metabolic factor, or elevated glucose, blood pressure or lipids alone or clustered with obesity or another metabolic factor.

The researchers looked at how many people within each group died as compared to those within the normal weight population with no metabolic risk factors.

They found that one out of 20 individuals with obesity had no other metabolic abnormalities.

Also Read: Abdominal Obesity Linked to Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms

“This is in contrast with most of the literature and we think this is because most studies have defined metabolic healthy obesity as having up to one metabolic risk factor,” said Kuk.

“This is clearly problematic, as hypertension alone increases your mortality risk and past literature would have called these patients with obesity and hypertension, ‘healthy’. This is likely why most studies have reported that ‘healthy’ obesity is still related with higher mortality risk,” Kuk noted.

Earlier, a study, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, found that women with metabolically healthy obesity were at 39 per cent higher risk of cardiovascular disease. (IANS)