Experts Link Chemicals to Diabetes, Obesity
Sept. 28, 2015 — People who are trying to lose weight or manage diabetes should try to change their lifestyle not only to exercise or cut calories, but also to avoid chemicals that may be contributing to their condition, experts say.
“You may have a healthy meal, but if it’s in a plastic container, it’s leaching chemicals,” said Andrea Gore, PhD, a pharmacologist at the University of Texas at Austin in a webinar for reporters on Monday.
Gore is the chair of a task force that issued on Monday a new statement on the harm from hormone-disrupting chemicals. The statement, which is based on a review of more than 1,300 studies, says there’s convincing evidence to support a link between hundreds of hormone disruptors and several chronic health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Hormone-sensitive cancers in women (breast, endometrial, ovarian)
- Prostate cancer
- Thyroid problems
- Poor brain development and brain function in young children
The statement is significant because it comes from a group of doctors that treat people for hormone problems instead of scientists who study the effects of chemicals in animals or on cells.
Gore said the evidence for these effects is now strong enough that everyone should take steps to avoid chemicals that block or mimic the action of hormones in the body.
She also called on doctors who are treating patients for infertility to tell their patients to avoid hormone disruptors, which are known to decrease semen quality and interfere with how ovaries work. She said doctors who are counseling pregnant women and the parents of young children should also warn about chemical exposures.
“In particular, we’re worried about fetuses, infants, children, etc.,” she said, because exposure to the chemicals during development could set the stage for disease down the road.
Avoiding these kinds of chemicals is easier said than done, however, since no one knows how many of them exist or exactly how they’re being used. That’s because chemicals aren’t tested for safety before they used in products that are sold to consumers.