Hormone chemical "panic" is "unjustified"

German scientific group says real research priority is whether health links can be proved

There is no need for "panic" over endocrine-disrupting chemicals, a group of German scientists said yesterday. At a meeting in Karlsruhe organised by the German Chemists' Society (GDCh), a working party said that potential human health effects from endocrine disrupters was being "overestimated". There was no proof yet of any causal link between these chemicals and human health, the "group on existing substances" claimed. The report comes amidst rising concern over whether a wide range of synthetic chemicals could be mimicking human hormones such as oestrogen and causing effects including declining sperm counts and increasing cancers of the breasts and testes. According to the German working party, oestrogenic effects of suspected hormone disrupters have only been found under laboratory conditions. Moreover, their hormone-like effects are weaker than natural hormones. It therefore "seems very doubtful" that the very small amounts that have been found in food or the environment could cause harm, the group's scientific secretary told ENDS Daily. The group is worried that widespread concern over these chemicals is leading research bodies to "fund anything with the words 'endocrine' and 'disrupting' in the title" she continued. Governments should alter the balance of research funding to find out whether there really is a causal relationship between supposed hormone disrupters and health effects rather than focusing on pure research, she concluded.

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