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Toxicol Lett. 2013 Dec 16;223(3):295-305. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2013.10.022. Epub 2013 Oct 28.

Endocrine disruption: fact or urban legend?

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Les Caillons, 58460 Corvol, L'Orgueilleux, France. Electronic address:


Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are substances that cause adverse health effects via endocrine-mediated mechanisms in an intact organism or its progeny or (sub) populations. Purported EDCs in personal care products include 4-MBC (UV filter) or parabens that showed oestrogenic activity in screening tests, although regulatory toxicity studies showed no adverse effects on reproductive endpoints. Hormonal potency is the key issue of the safety of EDCs. Oestrogen-based drugs, e.g. the contraceptive pill or the synthetic oestrogen DES, possess potencies up to 7 orders of magnitude higher than those of PCP ingredients; yet, in utero exposure to these drugs did not adversely affect fertility or sexual organ development of offspring unless exposed to extreme doses. Additive effects of EDs are unlikely due to the multitude of mechanisms how substances may produce a hormone-like activity; even after uptake of different substances with a similar mode of action, the possibility of additive effects is reduced by different absorption, metabolism and kinetics. This is supported by a number of studies on mixtures of chemical EDCs. Overall, despite of 20 years of research a human health risk from exposure to low concentrations of exogenous chemical substances with weak hormone-like activities remains an unproven and unlikely hypothesis.


4-MBC; 4-methylbenzylidene camphor; Additive effects; BfR; Bundesamt für Risikobewertung (Berlin, Germany); DEP; DES; Diethylstilbestrol; ECETOC; ED; EDC; EFSA; EPA; EU; Endocrine Disrupting Chemical; Endocrine Disruptor; Endocrine disruptors; European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals; European Food Safety Agency; European Union; GLP; Good Laboratory Practice; IPCS; International Program on Chemical Safety; PCP; Personal Care Products/Cosmetics; Personal care products; Potency; TDS; Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome; Testicular dysgenesis syndrome; US Environmental Protection Agency; WHO; World Health Organisation.; diethylphthalate

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