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Estrogen Mimics - Essay Example

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This essay "Estrogen Mimics" deals with estrogen, a hormone secreted primarily by the ovaries. It controls the menstrual cycle, fertility, and maintenance of a healthy pregnancy, among other critical activities in adults. In the fetus, estrogen is essential for the normal development of both males and females…
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Download file to see previous pages Any small disturbances in endocrine function, especially during certain stages of the life cycle such as development, pregnancy, and lactation, can lead to profound and lasting effects (Kavlock, et al. 1996, 1-26). For example, estrogen is a hormone secreted primarily by the ovaries. It controls the menstrual cycle, fertility, and maintenance of a healthy pregnancy, among other critical activities in adults. In the fetus, estrogen is essential for the normal development of both males and females (NRDC, N.D.).
Scientists have identified dozens of human-made chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system. For instance, some man-made chemicals can act like estrogen in the body and are called “estrogen mimics”. Agricultural chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are commonly known to mimic the activities of estrogen. These are being increasingly detected in agricultural runoff. Besides, effluent from water treatment plants often from drugs flushed down the toilet in homes and pollution from manufacturers including plastics factories and paper pulp mills are also known for estrogen-mimicking properties. These chemicals are also turning up in aquatic animals and birds that live in or near streams, rivers and the ocean. They are known -- in certain concentrations -- to disrupt the ability of alligators, frogs, birds and fish to mature and reproduce (Earth and Sky, 2000).
Synthetic substances that can have the same effect as naturally occurring hormones in the body are called “hormone mimics” or "hormonally active agents (HAAs)" as the U.S. National Academy of Sciences termed them in a landmark report issued in August 1999. HAAs may be beneficial, such as the synthetic hormone drugs, estrogen and progesterone, that are found in birth control pills and in hormone replacement therapy taken by women after menopause. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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