Factories at Asnieres

A Lifetime of Endocrine Disruptors and Obesity

A lifetime of exposure to endocrine disruptors can begin before a person is even born, and may put that person on a path to obesity and health complications. This is the implication of a new study in Environmental Health Perspectives. First author Parisa Montazeri explains:

“Our findings underscore the potential impact of early-life chemical exposures on childhood growth patterns, which can have long-term implications for health. Understanding these relationships is crucial for informing public health efforts aimed at preventing childhood obesity and its related health consequences.”

A Spanish Birth Cohort of 1,911 Persons

This is an observational study. It examined the relationship between a mother’s blood and urine levels of potential endocrine disrupting chemicals and her child’s growth trajectory. So of course, because this is observational research, it cannot, by itself, establish a causal relationship between prenatal exposures to endocrine disruptors and obesity. But it does give us reasons for concern.

Notably, this study considered the risk that endocrine disruptors present both individually and in a mixture. Such mixed exposures offer a more realistic assessment of the exposures that mothers and their children may experience.

Leonardo Trasande is director of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone Health. He told CNN, “This reinforces the reality that synthetic chemicals do make us fatter.”

Better Policies Needed

This research also points us to the need for better policies to address our exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. They are everywhere in our environment, says endocrinologist Karl Nadolsky. “They can be found in the air, soil, or water supply, in addition to food sources, personal care products, and manufactured products.”

A new paper in Nature Reviews Endocrinology reminds us of the great need for better policies to reduce the risk of exposure to endocrine disruptors. Carol Duh-Leong and colleagues write:

“Poorly defined or unenforced policies can increase global human exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), contributing to substantial human disease, disability, and economic damage.”

So as we wonder why we have such a stubborn upward trend in obesity, we would do well to remember that endocrine disruptors are doing their part, without our consent.

It only makes sense to find ways to reduce the risks they present.

Click here for the research by Montazeri et al and here for the paper from Duh-Leong et al. For further perspective, click here.

Factories at Asnieres, painting by Vincent van Gogh / WikiArt

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November 7, 2023

One Response to “A Lifetime of Endocrine Disruptors and Obesity”

  1. November 07, 2023 at 9:40 am, Robyn Flipse said:

    I have long believed that the connection between endocrine disrupters and obesity helps to explain the global rise in obesity among people of all continents and their domestic pets, regardless of diet, physical activity and other cultural differences.