endocrine disruptors

Endocrine Disruptors

Our Endocrine system regulates hormones that influence every cell, tissue, organ and function in our bodies. The endocrine system regulates mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes.

  • An endocrine disruptor is a chemical that alters normal function of this system. A variety of chemicals have been found to disrupt the endocrine system; some mimic hormones, while others can block these hormones from doing their job.
  • In their everyday lives, women are exposed to combinations of potential endocrine disrupting chemicals through personal care products, certain plastics and pesticides, pharmaceuticals, cleaning products, foods and beverages. These exposures occur throughout a woman's lifetime.
  • Although there are a multitude of potentially endocrine disrupting chemicals that can be studied, Mount Sinai School of Medicine has chosen to focus on three common exposures: diethyl phthalate,methylparaben , and triclosan . All have some evidence of hormonal activity that is suspected to produce adverse health effects.

Triclosan- Commonly used antimicrobial found in personal care and household products ranging from toothpaste, deodorant and hand soap to cutting boards and inner soles of shoes.

  • The hormonal activity of triclosan has not been clearly established and results of many investigations are conflicting.
  • Dermal and oral exposure are the main exposure routes and triclosan has been measured in breast milk indicating that this chemical may act directly on breast tissue.http://www.ewg.org/node/26701
  • There is limited research on triclosan exposure and breast cancer risk.

Methylparaben- Commonly used as antimicrobial preservatives in personal care products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and in the processing of foods and beverages.

  • Parabens have been hypothesized to play a role in breast cancer due to their potential estrogen activity.
  • There is limited research on paraben exposure and breast cancer risk.

Diethyl Phthalate- Exposures are high because they are so widely used.

  • Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is found more often in personal care products (fragrances, shampoo, cosmetics and nail polish).
  • Not required to be on product labels, including medications.
  • Phthalates mimic estrogen, not only do these affect females but they also have anti-androgenic effects on males. In both male and females these chemical exposures may have adverse reproductive outcomes.

Studies and publications on the adverse health effects of triclosan, methylparaben and diethyl phthalate can be found below.

Our daily exposures add up.

How many times a day do you use cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and/or perfumes?

Does this combination have toxic effects on health?


With ubiquitous exposure to Endocrine Disrupters (EDs) and rising concerns about the health consequences of these chemicals, studying the role of EDs in breast carcinogenesis is urgently needed. In addition, it is highly important from the public health point of view to develop intervention strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of EDs. Should the epidemiologic findings and results from animal studies support the role of EDs in breast cancer etiology, public health recommendations should be implemented. Choices and changes in your everyday behaviors also can be easily applied.


It is important as a community to increase our awareness. 

Studies and publications on Adverse Health Effects of Triclosan, Methylparaben, Diethyl Phthalate (Phthalates)

Studies and publications on Adverse Health Effects of
Triclosan, Methylparaben, Diethyl Phthalate (Phthalates)

Phthalate articles:

Hauser R, Meeker JD,Singh NP et al. DNA damage in human sperm is related to urinary levels of phthalate monoester andoxidative metabolites. Hum Reprod 2007Mar;22(3):688-95.

Duty SM, SinghNP, Silva MJ et al. Therelationship between environmental exposures to phthalates and DNA damage inhuman sperm using the neutral comet assay. Environ Health Perspect 2003Jul;111(9):1164-9.

Jonsson BA, Richthoff J, Rylander L,Giwercman A, Hagmar L. Urinary phthalate metabolites and biomarkers ofreproductive function in young men. Epidemiology 2005 Jul;16(4):487-93.

Swan SH, Main KM,Liu F et al. Decreasein anogenital distance among male infants with prenatal phthalate exposure.Environ Health Perspect 2005 Aug;113(8):1056- 61.

Main KM,Mortensen GK, Kaleva MM et al. Human breast milk contamination with phthalates andalterations of endogenous reproductive hormones in infants three months of age. Environ Health Perspect 2006 Feb;114(2):270-6.

Gray LE, Jr., Ostby J, Furr J, Price M,Veeramachaneni DN, Parks L. Perinatal exposure to the phthalates DEHP, BBP, andDINP, but not DEP, DMP, or DOTP, alters sexual differentiation of the male rat.Toxicol Sci 2000 Dec;58(2):350-65.

Jones HB,Garside DA, Liu R, Roberts JC. The influence of phthalate esters on Leydig cellstructure and function in vitro and in vivo. Exp Mol Pathol 1993Jun;58 (3):179-93.

Saito K, Tomigahara Y, Ohe N, Isobe N,Nakatsuka I, Kaneko H. Lack of significant estrogenic or antiestrogenicactivity of pyrethroid insecticides in three in vitro assays based on classicestrogen receptor alpha-mediated mechanisms. Toxicol Sci 2000 Sep;57(1):54-60.

Gray TJ, Rowland IR, Foster PM, Gangolli SD.Species differences in the testicular toxicity of phthalate esters. ToxicolLett 1982 Apr;11(1-2):141-7.

Paraben articles:

Ye X, Bishop AM, Reidy JA, Needham LL,Calafat AM. Parabens as urinary biomarkers of exposure in humans. EnvironHealth Perspect 2006 Dec;114(12):1843-6.

Darbre PD, Harvey PW. Paraben esters: reviewof recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure,and discussion of potential human health risks. J Appl Toxicol 2008Jul;28(5):561-78.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jat.1358/abstract;jsessioni d=

Golden R, Gandy J, Vollmer G. A review of theendocrine activity of parabens and implications for potential risks to humanhealth. Crit Rev Toxicol 2005 Jun;35 (5):435-58.

Chen J, Ahn KC, Gee NA, Gee SJ, Hammock BD,Lasley BL. Antiandrogenic properties of parabens and other phenolic containingsmall molecules in personal care products. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2007 Jun15;221(3):278-84.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1978490/? tool=pubmed

Triclosan articles:

Chen J, Ahn KC, Gee NA, Gee SJ, Hammock BD,Lasley BL. Antiandrogenic properties of parabens and other phenolic containingsmall molecules in personal care products. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2007 Jun15;221(3):278-84.

Svobodova K, Plackova M, Novotna V, CajthamlT. Estrogenic and androgenic activity of PCBs, their chlorinated metabolitesand other endocrine disruptors estimated with two in vitro yeast assays. SciTotal Environ 2009 Nov 1;407(22):5921-5.

Ahn KC, Zhao B,Chen J et al. Invitro biologic activities of the antimicrobials triclocarban, its analogs, andtriclosan in bioassay screens: receptor-based bioassay screens. Environ HealthPerspect 2008 Sep;116(9):1203-10.

Ye X, Bishop AM, Needham LL, Calafat AM.Automated on-line column-switching HPLC-MS/MS method with peak focusing formeasuring parabens, triclosan, and other environmental phenols in human milk.Anal Chim Acta 2008 Aug 1;622(1-2):150-6.

Bhargava HN, Leonard PA. Triclosan:applications and safety. Am J Infect Control 1996 Jun;24(3):209-18.

Allmyr M, dolfsson-Erici M, McLachlan MS,Sandborgh-Englund G. Triclosan in plasma and milk from Swedish nursing mothersand their exposure via personal care products. Sci Total Environ 2006 Dec15;372(1):87-93.