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What are endocrine disruptors?

Endocrine disruptors are industrially produced chemical substances that mimic hormones by binding to a hormone receptor of a cell, causing an effect similar to that of a hormone or blocking a receptor. In this way, they change the function of the endocrine system and are strongly suspected of causing harm to health

  • Reduced fertility through decreasing sperm quality

  • Malformations of male and female sex organs

  • Metabolic disorders (diabetes mellitus, obesity)

  • Behavioral syndromes such as autism and ADHD

  • Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Earlier onset of puberty

  • Appearance of tumours (prostate, testicular and breast cancer) through imitation of sex hormones

  • In addition, there are discussions about impairment of intelligence


Currently, 28 substances and ingredients that could potentially be endocrine disruptors are under scrutiny by the European Commission. 14 of these substances have high priority. In an overview by the EU, these include 6 substances (benzophenone-3, kojic acid, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, propylparaben, triclosan and resorcinol) used in cosmetic products that have not yet been covered by an existing or ongoing ban.

In addition, the following substances are listed as suspected endocrine disruptors:



​It is currently unclear when, for which substance and whether a ban in accordance with Regulation (EC) 1223/2009 on Cosmetics of the European Parliament will enter into force.

© Dr. med. Dipl. Biol. Susanne Saha 03/2021

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