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What is endocrine disruption?

The endocrine system is the body's complex array of hormonal messages that affect almost every bodily function, including our reproductive health, thyroid gland, nerves, and immune system. Many industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals distort the functioning of the endocrine system. Research on endocrine-disrupting contaminants (EDCs), also called ecoestrogens or exogenous estrogens, is now revealing environmental threats to women's health.

Breast cancer and other cancers in women, breast milk contamination, and other reproductive problems (such as endometriosis, miscarriage, and tubal pregnancy) may be related to EDCs in our food supply, air, and water; in industrial waste discharges; and in many synthetic household and personal-care products. These substances mimic, block, or alter the body's normal estrogen functioning, thereby putting women at risk for disease. Most scientists agree that breast cancer risk is affected by how much estrogen we have in our bodies and for how long over our lifetime. If the body's own "natural" estrogen levels are increased or changed in some way by chemicals that act like estrogens, our risk of breast cancer, endometriosis, and other diseases may go up.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.