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Vitam Horm. 2014;94:129-65. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-800095-3.00005-5.

Low-dose effects of hormones and endocrine disruptors.

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Department of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts - Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. Electronic address:


Endogenous hormones have effects on tissue morphology, cell physiology, and behaviors at low doses. In fact, hormones are known to circulate in the part-per-trillion and part-per-billion concentrations, making them highly effective and potent signaling molecules. Many endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) mimic hormones, yet there is strong debate over whether these chemicals can also have effects at low doses. In the 1990s, scientists proposed the "low-dose hypothesis," which postulated that EDCs affect humans and animals at environmentally relevant doses. This chapter focuses on data that support and refute the low-dose hypothesis. A case study examining the highly controversial example of bisphenol A and its low-dose effects on the prostate is examined through the lens of endocrinology. Finally, the chapter concludes with a discussion of factors that can influence the ability of a study to detect and interpret low-dose effects appropriately.


Adverse effect; Chemical mixture; Epidemiology; Estrogen; Guideline study; Intrauterine position; NOAEL; Nonmonotonic dose response; Risk assessment; Xenoestrogen

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