210575 Hormones, hormones everywhere: Considering cumulative impacts of hormones in food production

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:10 PM

David Wallinga, MD, MPA , Food and Health Program, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), Minneapolis, MN
Experience with hormone replacement therapy and with diethylstilbesterol dictates prudence around knowingly exposing people, and especially fetuses or young children, unnecessarily to exogenous hormone. And yet synthetic hormones are commonly and intentionally added to the U.S. food systems, raising concerns about hormone residues in food as well as in surface waters downstream of farms. Among hormonally-active chemicals added to the food supply are dozens of pesticides recognized as known or possible "endocrine disruptors", plastics additives to food packaging such as phthalates and bisphenol A, and steroid growth hormones. The latter chiefly includes several synthetic steroids routinely given to beef cattle to make them grow faster to market weight -- a practice banned in the European Union. Suprisingly, before and even after DES was banned for human use following recognition that in-utero exposure led to higher risks for reproductive cancers, infertility and other impacts later in life, it also was used as an FDA-approved growth promoter in cattle and poultry production in the U.S. Little effort to date has been made to appreciate the cumulative exposure and human risk from these various products and practices. The presenter discusses the known science and what has not yet been studied about cumulative hormone exposures via the food system. In this context, policy options are reviewed, including the need for public health precaution.

Learning Objectives:
1) Summarize what we know about impacts of exposure to low dose estrogens on long-term health. 2) List three kinds of hormones or hormonally active chemicals currently found in the food supply. 3) Discuss the state of knowledge of cumulative hormone exposure via food.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a physician. I work on the issue of environmental hormones and their potential impacts on human health. I am a Food Systems and Public Health Fellow of the Wm. T. Grant Foundation at the University of Minnesota
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.