Daily News Archive
From December 08, 2005                                                                                                           

Scientists Examine Link Between Endocrine Disruptors And Genetic Diseases
(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2005)
Scientists have found that endocrine disrupting chemicals can trigger genetic diseases and disorders that are commonly believed to be hereditary. In particular, recent studies have linked obesity with exposure to endocrine disruptors. These new findings are changing the way that scientists view genetic diseases. In a recent interview Dr. John Pete Myers, the Chief Scientist and founder of Environmental Health Sciences, explains that, “for a long time we thought that [genetic diseases] meant heredity. You got a gene from your parents, and it was a bad gene, and you got the disease. But this new science – it's been unfolding now for 30 years and it's really, really taken off now – is saying you can have the right gene, but because of the environment it's behaving in the wrong way.”

New studies are revealing that endocrine disruptors, chemicals that effect important hormones that control such things as reproduction and parts of development, can cause genetic diseases. In May 2005, a study was completed in Spain that linked endocrine disruptors with impaired glucose metabolism in the liver. Problems with glucose production can lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Endocrine disruptors have long been associated with various problems. According to Dr. Myers they can cause, “neurodevelopmental disorders, things like ADHD, attention hyperactivity disorder syndrome. Autism. Obesity. And a variety of problems having to do with weight regulation, what scientists call weight homeostasis. Diabetes. Problems of aging, what happens to people as they're getting old. Definitely problems in infertility. And malfunctions in the immune system so that people wind up either with immune systems that are hyperactive and are involved in causing auto-immune disorders, or the opposite, immune systems that aren't strong enough to help us resist the diseases that we normally would be able to resist.”

Many pesticides have been identified as either known or probable endocrine disruptors. For example, synthetic pyrethroids, a popular and widely used type of pesticide, have often been linked with endocrine disruption. Synthetic pyrethroids are often touted as a safer alternative to such acutely hazardous pesticides as organophosphates, however the probable effects of chronic exposure to synthetic pyrethroids should make people reconsider.

The link between endocrine disruption and genetic diseases not only changes the way that we view genetic diseases, but also affects our understanding of how big of a role the environment can play in issues that are usually considered predestined. What was once considered predetermined by heredity is now being seen as just as vulnerable as any other factors of health and development.