Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) mimic estrogen and may interfere with the endocrine system, producing adverse effects in humans. The risk caused by EDCs is thought to be greater in times of breast development, such as in utero, puberty and pregnancy.
Some EDCs, which can be found in household and personal care products people use every day, are phenols, phthalates, and phytoestrogens. Current evidence is strong that the cumulative effect of low-dose exposure to EDCs, especially during particularly vulnerable developmental windows, can lead to long-term consequences in later health.
Scientists are paying particular attention to:
Phthalates: Chemicals used to make certain plastics more flexible and are added to many personal care products. Products that may contain phthalates include food and beverage containers, toys, detergents, food packaging, and personal care products such as fragrance, nail polish, deodorant, hair care, and body lotion.
Bisphenol A (BPA): A clear plastic widely used in consumer products known to have estrogenic effects. BPA is added to certain hard plastic containers often used for food and beverages and is also used to line the inside of many of the metal cans used for canned foods. Recent studies have also found BPA in some cash register receipts. Animal studies have shown that BPA can be released from plastics in concentrations high enough to change gene expression patterns.
For more information:
- Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and Breast Cancer Risk (color) – PDF
- Fact Sheet: Endocrine Disruptors – National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Bisphenol A (BPA)
- Bisphenol A (BPA) – NIEHS
- Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application – Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Consumer Updates: FDA Continues to Study BPA – FDA
- National Toxicology Program: Fact Sheet on BPA – NIEHS
- Community Health Bulletin: Phthalates – Mount Sinai School of Medicine
- Fact Sheet on Phthalates – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Phthalates and Cosmetic Products – FDA
- Phthalates Fact Sheet – Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program
- Phthalates, The Everywhere Chemical – Zero Breast Cancer