EU scientists have called on governments to take the chemical threat to human hormones seriously.
Alarmed by the rise in breast and testicular cancers and reproductive disorders amongst young Europeans males, the scientists have urged European leaders to take urgent precautionary action on chemicals that interfere with the hormone system, the so-called endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Over 100 leading scientists from Europe and the US have signed the in the Prague Declaration on Endocrine Disorders highlighting the need for the EU to take action on endocrine disruptors (ED). They have expressed concern about
- the increase in reproductive disorders in boys and young men,
- the increase in testicular and breast cancer,
- the harmful impact on wildlife.
The Prague Declaration sets out the latest research results in the area and highlights the inadequacies in EU legislation for dealing with hormone-disrupting chemicals.
‘We have identified an extremely disturbing trend that shows a substantial rise in genital disorders in boys and young men in Europe,’ said Professor Niels E Skakkebaek MD, who coordinates EDEN’s research into human male reproductive. ‘Lifestyle, diet, and environmental contamination all play a role in these disorders. We need to make absolutely sure that research is constantly updated in this area.’
The declaration stresses that scientific uncertainty should not delay precautionary measures to reduce the risks. These measures could range from correct labelling of implicated products through measures to reduce the exposure or restrict the use of to the outright banning of certain products. The scientists have further called for these substances to be included in the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) system and for immediate measures to be taken to restrict the use or creation of certain substances such as brominated flame retardants to avoid repeat of recent scandals triggered by an accumulation of dioxins and PCBs in humans and wildlife.
‘Current testing does not take ED effects fully into account. There is a real need for safety tests to identify chemicals which are endocrine disrupters,’ said Ragnor Pedersen, a researcher at the University of London School of Pharmacy’s Centre for Toxicology and a participant in the CREDO project. They proposed a certain number of recommendations both on a political and a research level.
The Declaration is the result of work conducted during a special workshop on the EDEN (Endocrine Disruption Research) project, held in the Czech capital Prague in May. EDEN is one of the four core projects under CREDO, the Cluster of Research into Endocrine Disruption in Europe, funded by the European Commission. One of the theme that conducted to the declaration is the development of indicators of impaired reproductive function in European men.