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What are endocrine disruptors?

Endocrine disruptors are industrially produced chemical substances that imitate hormones by binding to a hormone receptor of a cell, causing an effect similar to the hormone or blocking the receptor. They thus alter the function of the endocrine system and are strongly suspected of leading to health damage to lead:

  • Decrease in fertility due to a decrease in sperm quality
  • Malformations of male and female genital organs
  • Metabolic diseases (diabetes mellitus, obesity)
  • Behavioural problems such as autism, ADHD
  • Neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, etc.
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Earlier onset of puberty
  • Occurrence of tumours (prostate, testicular and breast cancer) due to imitation of sex hormones
  • in addition, a Reduction of intelligence discusses

Currently, the European Commission 28 substances and ingredients discussed that could possibly be endocrine active. 14 substances of these have a high priority. In a EU overview study include 6 substances (benzophenone-3, kojic acid, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, propylparaben, Triclosan and resorcinol), which are used in cosmetic products and are not yet covered by an existing or ongoing ban.

INCI name (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients)Chemical name
Kojic acid5-hydroxy-2-hydroxymethyl-4-pyrone
4-Methylbenzylidene camphor(±)-1,7,7-trimethyl-3-[(4-methylphenyl)methylene]bicyclo[2.2.1]heptan-2-ones
PropylparabenPropyl 4-hydroxybenzoate
Octocrylene2-cyano-3,3-diphenyl acrylic acid 2-ethylhexyl ester
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)2,6-di-tert-butyl-p-cresol
Homosalate2-hydroxybenzoic acid (3,3,5-trimethylcyclohexyl) ester or benzoic acid, 2-hydroxy-, 3,3,5-trimethylcyclohexyl ester
Benzyl salicylateBenzyl salicylate
Daidzein4′,7-dihydroxyisoflavone or 7-hydroxy-3-(4-hydroxyphenyl)chromen-4-one or 7-hydroxy-3-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one".

Source: European Commission: Call for data on ingredients with potential endocrine-disrupting properties used in cosmetic products

© Dr. med. Dipl. Biol. Susanne Saha 03/2021

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