“Hormone-mimicking” chemicals in food, UN – WHO researcher concerns

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st February 2013

Many synthetic chemicals found in common foods could have significant health implications according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The new UNEP – WHO report highlights research findings that some substances, known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) or “hormone-mimicking chemicals” which are commonly found in household products, can cause different cancers, reproductive issues, obesity, and problems with brain development.

The 16 researchers from the UNEP and WHO issued the new report with the aim to “alert” world leaders about the “complex” and “controversial” topics of EDCs and EDC-associated diseases.

The research team conducted the most comprehensive report on EDCs to date, finding that EDCs can be exposed to humans by agricultural run-off, the ingestion of certain foods and water, and the inhalation of gases and particles in the air.

Stockholm University and Chief Editor of the report, Professor Åke Bergman, said that research over the past ten years has found that EDCs are far more “complicated” than previously conducted research had found.

“As science continues to advance, it is time for both management of endocrine disrupting chemicals and further research on exposure and effects of these chemicals in wildlife and humans,” Professor Bergman said.

According to the World Health Organisation, the contamination of food by chemical hazards is a worldwide public health concern and is becoming a leading cause of trade disruption internationally. Contamination may occur through environmental pollution of the air, water and soil, such as the case with toxic metals, PCBs and dioxins, or through the intentional use of various chemicals, such as in packaging, pesticides, animal drugs and other agrochemicals.

The research team has suggested that additional studies are required on EDCs and their effects on humans and wildlife. Wildlife studies in Alaska, the United States, noted that EDCs have contributed to population declines, infertility and deformities in certain species.

The UNEP and WHO have raised concerns over endocrine disrupting chemicals found in common food products.