Unwitting Accomplices: Endocrine Disruptors Confounding Clinical Care.

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Burgeoning evidence over the last 25 years has identified myriad synthetic chemicals with the capacity to alter various aspects of hormone synthesis and action. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been linked to various diseases, including reproductive disorders, metabolic diseases, and developmental abnormalities among others. Exposure to EDCs arises from industrial activity, use of personal and home care products, and consumption of contaminated food and water; however, the role of healthcare in exposing individuals to EDCs is grossly underappreciated. Indeed, through the use of medications as well as medical equipment and devices, healthcare providers are unknowing mediators of exposure to EDCs, chemicals that might not only promote disease but that may also antagonize the efficacy of treatments. The ethical implications of provider-dependent exposure are profound. A failure to disclose the endocrine-disrupting properties of medical interventions violates core principles of non-maleficence, patient autonomy, and justice as well as the practice of informed consent. Furthermore, physicians' lack of knowledge regarding EDCs in medical practice artificially skews risk-benefit calculations that are fundamental to informed medical decision-making. To combat this underappreciated ethical challenge, urgent action is required. Healthcare providers must be educated about endocrine disruption. Known EDCs, defined by endocrinologists, should be clearly labeled on all medical products, and all medication components and devices should be screened for endocrine-disrupting properties. Finally, communication strategies must be devised to empower patients with knowledge about these risks. Providing ethically-competent care requires an open acknowledgment of endocrine risks imposed by the medical community that have heretofore been ignored.

Click here to read the full article @ The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism


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