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Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Dec;115 Suppl 1:98-105. doi: 10.1289/ehp.9357.

Ten years of mixing cocktails: a review of combination effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

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The School of Pharmacy, University of London, London, United Kingdom.


In the last 10 years, good evidence has become available to show that the combined effects of endocrine disruptors (EDs) belonging to the same category (e.g., estrogenic, antiandrogenic, or thyroid-disrupting agents) can be predicted by using dose addition. This is true for a variety of end points representing a wide range of organizational levels and biological complexity. Combinations of EDs are able to produce significant effect, even when each chemical is present at low doses that individually do not induce observable effects. However, comparatively little is known about mixtures composed of chemicals from different classes of EDs. Nevertheless, I argue that the accumulated evidence seriously undermines continuation with the customary chemical-by-chemical approach to risk assessment for EDs. Instead, we should seriously consider group-wise regulation of classes of EDs. Great care should be taken to define such classes by using suitable similarity criteria. Criteria should focus on common effects, rather than common mechanisms. In this review I also highlight research needs and identify the lack of information about exposure scenarios as a knowledge gap that seriously hampers progress with ED risk assessment. Future research should focus on investigating the effects of combinations of EDs from different categories, with considerable emphasis on elucidating mechanisms. This strategy may lead to better-defined criteria for grouping EDs for regulatory purposes. Also, steps should be taken to develop dedicated mixtures exposure assessment for EDs.


combination effect; combined exposure; endocrine-disrupting chemical; mixture; review

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