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Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

These terms describe endocrine disrupters, the synthetic chemicals and natural plant compounds that may affect the endocrine system (the communication system of glands, hormones and cellular receptors that control the body's internal functions). Many of these substances have been associated with developmental, reproductive and other health problems in wildlife and laboratory animals. Some experts suggest these compounds may affect humans in similar ways...




Estrogens Explainer

Estrogens are a group of chemically similar steroid hormones. Steroids are a special kind of fat molecule with a four-ringed, carbon atom backbone, or core, like their cholesterol predecessor. A series of chemical reactions, spurred by proteins called enzymes, remove and add groups to cholesterol's core. These actions transform it first into the steroid pregnenolone and then into androgens. Special aromatase enzymes convert androgens into the estrogens estradiol and estrone...




Estrogens and Estrogen-mimicking Compounds

Hormone receptors are large, flexible protein molecules that interlock with hormones and read and respond to their signals. Compatible structures facilitate binding between the two - like a baseball in a glove - but the fit is not restrictive, perfect, stiff, or permanent. Hormone and receptor both bend and flex, slightly changing shape to accommodate the other - similar to two hands coming together in a handshake...




Featured Definition: Endocrine Disruption

Process by which an exogenous substance causes adverse health effects consequent to changes in endocrine function...