News / Health

    Many Synthetic Chemicals Disrupt Hormone System

    A view of red polluted water in the Jianhe River in Luoyang, Henan province, December 13, 2011. According to local media, the sources of the pollution are two illegal chemical plants discharging their production waste water into the rain sewer pipes. A view of red polluted water in the Jianhe River in Luoyang, Henan province, December 13, 2011. According to local media, the sources of the pollution are two illegal chemical plants discharging their production waste water into the rain sewer pipes.
    x
    A view of red polluted water in the Jianhe River in Luoyang, Henan province, December 13, 2011. According to local media, the sources of the pollution are two illegal chemical plants discharging their production waste water into the rain sewer pipes.
    A view of red polluted water in the Jianhe River in Luoyang, Henan province, December 13, 2011. According to local media, the sources of the pollution are two illegal chemical plants discharging their production waste water into the rain sewer pipes.
    Lisa Schlein
    A new study by the U.N. Environment Program and the World Health Organization finds many synthetic chemicals affect the hormone system and could have significant health implications.  The joint study updates scientific evidence presented 10 years ago and identifies the effects of human exposure to so-called Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals. 

    Human health depends on a well-functioning endocrine or glandular system to regulate the release of certain hormones that are essential for some functions.  They regulate metabolism, growth and development, sleep and mood. 

    Some substances known as endocrine disrupters can alter the functions of this hormonal system increasing the risk of adverse health effects.  World Health Organization Director of Public Health and Environment, Maria Neira, says there is growing evidence that some endocrinal disrupting disorders or diseases are on the rise. 

    “The speed to which these diseases are increasing cannot exclusively be justified by genetic problems," said Dr. Neira. "It has to be as well be associated with environmental factors, issues like nutrition or bad nutrition or age or other factors that I would say are external and probably combined.” 

    Endocrine disrupting chemicals are found in many household and industrial products.  They can enter the environment mainly through industrial and urban discharges, agricultural run-off and the burning and release of waste.

    Human exposure to these chemicals can create a lower sperm count in young men and contribute to breast cancer in women.  Dr. Neira says prostate cancer risks are higher among those men exposed to pesticides, particularly in those countries where occupational health is not well developed.

    “We have an association as well with adverse effects on the developing nervous system  in children and those can include a negative impact on brain development... and we have seen an excess risk of thyroid cancer among those workers who are using pesticides,” said Dr. Neira.

    The report also raises concerns on the impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals on wildlife.  For example, it notes exposure to such chemicals in the U.S. State of Alaska may contribute to reproductive defects, infertility and antler malformation in some deer populations. 

    It says the decline in population species of otters and sea lions may also be partially due to their exposure to PCBs, the insecticide DDT, and other persistent organic pollutants and metals, such as mercury.

    Among its recommendations, the study urges more comprehensive testing to identify other possible endocrine disrupters, their sources, and routes of exposure.  It notes what is known about these chemicals is just the tip of the iceberg.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora