We all have heard of endocrine disruptors (also called EDCs, or endocrine-disrupting chemicals), but do we really know what they are, and how they function ? Let’s go over the basics and remind ourselves of what these substances really are, and which effect they can have on the human body, as well as on living organisms in general.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are man-made or naturally occurring in our living environment. They may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce harmful developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. The sad thing about endocrine disruptors is that they are found in many everyday products – including plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics and pesticides, to name but a few.
So, it is understandable that in 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO), along with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), conducted and released a survey which to-this-date is quoted as a reference, and in which both institutions called for more research to fully understand the associations between EDCs and the risks to health of human and animal life.
In fact, these chemical substances can interfere with the standard growth and development of the human being in 3 different ways. First, when present, their action can reduce the action of conventional hormones in our system, or right out prevent our normally secreted hormones from reaching and binding with their matching receptors. Or they can also hinder or interrupt the standard production or regulation of a specific hormone and of its receptor, which entails an alteration of a given hormonal signal.
Whatever the effect, numerous instances have shown through research that the human body’s exposure to endocrine disruptors often leads to an increase in anomaly rates in organ development or even in reproductive functions with mice and human beings. Along with it also comes lower sperm reproductive quality, lowering of statistical puberty time and even growing occurrences of hormone-dependent cancers, type-2 diabetes, obesity and even suspicion of child autism with mothers exposed to such chemicals.
It doesn’t end there, other alarming facts surrounding EDC include that surprisingly their effect can be more adverse in small amounts than in larger ones, and they can have a truly long-term impact, so much so that their effect can be traced over several consecutive generations. This pervasiveness has compelled scientists and professionals studying them, to question the possible ‘cocktail effects’ due to EDCs, the theory that substances can act more powerfully together than if absorbed separately in our bodies.
Scientists studying EDCs today do not have much hindsight in their research, as this research was not started long ago and the mechanisms through which EDCs interact with conventional hormones and their receptors in the human body aren’t fully understood to this day.
Some chemical substances used in the dermo-cosmetics industry are currently under scrutiny by the European Union health authorities. Most of them have been identified and listed in a large-scale report called DHI, and which first was commissioned by the EU in 2007, although an updated version was published in November of 2014, with additional EDC added to the list. These substances are as follows :
- Benzophenone-3 : this substance is used as a UV filter in products and is suspected of being an endocrine disruptor, as explained in the 2007 European Union (EU) report assessing EDCs
- Oxybenzone : this molecule is currently under EU scrutiny, and there have been discussions to reduce its presence in cosmetic products down to 6 percent maximum of adult sunblock compositions. There may be soon a ban for such a molecule in children’s sun creams.
- Musc Ketone and Musc Xylene : they are both widely used in perfumes and fragrances, and are probably also EDCs, as listed in the 2007 DHI report.
- Benzylene Camphor (3-BC) : it is also used in sun lotions and is also suspected of being an EDC.
- Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) : Likewise, this substance also used as a UV filter in suncreams, has been clearly named an EDC by the EU through the 2014 DHI report.
- Cyclotetrasiloxane (D4): it is an emollient agent, and which also plays the role of skin and hair conditioner and is also listed as an EDC in the latest version of the DHI report.
The reality is that EDCs are not only very effective in cosmetic formulations, and they are also very cost effective. These 2 features contribute to their economic notoriety, and regulations concerning EDCs are therefore very difficult to initiate and develop due to industry opposition and lobbying.
The list of EDC is set to grow as today a new series of chemicals commonly used in the formulation of dermo-cosmetic products are under currently scrutiny by the E.U. as potentially harmful to our health. Many stakeholders in the industry argue that any new EDC regulatory framework that is too restrictive will harm the sectors of the dermo-cosmetic and chemical industries. The objective of such industry lobbying pressure is to delay definitively or as long as possible any new regulations and costly changes to ingredients and existing formulations.
NUNII’s brand promise is that “We do everything right for your skin” Since our origins NUNII has adopted a proactive monitoring of the latest international health guidelines across the world, as part of our commitment to limit the use of harmful molecules in our dermo-cosmetic product lines. NUNII priority is to place patient and customer safety and health first, from the very the design and manufacturing of our products by offering patients and doctors safer ingredient alternatives, even if it comes at greater challenge to do so.