In large studies, a group of substances was found that negatively affect human metabolism. The research project involves several large centers and scientists who plan to study the effects of certain chemicals on humans.
How endocrine disorders affect hormonal balance
A major EU research project is studying a group of chemicals that have a negative effect on human metabolism. There are many signs that the so-called "endocrine disruptors" contribute to weight gain, as well as metabolic diseases. Patients develop liver obesity, high blood lipids, and diabetes.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals or mixtures that interfere with the normal functioning of hormones.
In January 2019, a start signal was given for the pan-European research project EDCMET.
Researchers want to study the effect of endocrine disruptors on humans. Since 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Global Assessment of Endocrine Disorders has been warning of these common chemicals. The modern consumer constantly receives these compounds from food products.
The human body produces its hormones through various organs - the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, etc. However, some chemicals act as hormonal compounds. They are called "hidden" fats insofar as many have a lipid chemical structure.
Are body hormones regulating numerous functions?
Hormones are used by humans and other organisms as signaling molecules. They are transported through the blood, causing certain reactions throughout the body. Hormones regulate the development, growth, reproduction and behavior of people and animals.
Some chemicals are similar in chemical structure to natural hormones.
If they get inside, the body takes them "for their own." This can lead to a number of consequences:
- the effect of natural hormones can be weakened or enhanced;
- the production of certain hormones may be excessively increased or decreased.
- transport routes in the blood may be impaired;
- enzymes to regulate the natural hormonal balance can be suppressed;
- natural metabolism may be impaired.
How do endocrine disruptors enter the body?
Endocrine disruptors are used to produce many synthetic materials. Also in the food industry, they are often used to make plastic boxes, bottles, tetra-packs and cans.
In pesticides, they are also used and enter the soil and water. According to WHO, most chemicals enter the body through food and fluids. Items that are stored in plastic or have been in contact with pesticides pose the greatest risk. They can also be absorbed in contact with skin, for example, through care products or industrial cleaners.
Although endocrine disorders are associated with various negative effects, there is still no clear scientific evidence of the effect on metabolism.
Therefore, there are currently no approved methods for assessing their effects on the hormonal sphere.
New chemical tests
As part of the project, scientists will study how chemicals affect fat and energy metabolism in liver cells. A new routine method for testing chemicals should also be developed as part of the study. It will help prevent the further spread of endocrine disorders.
The identification of such “endocrine disruptors” and their effect on body functions is a key aspect in risk assessment.
Such reliable evidence using proven methods is a prerequisite for legal regulation.
Scientists suggest that previously unknown substances can significantly worsen human health. So far, the list of hazardous chemicals has not been announced, but it will be available by the end of 2020, according to researchers.