A High Price to Pay: Obesity, Diabetes, and Associated Costs of Exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in the European Union

April 28, 2015
10:00 am US Eastern Time

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This call continued the discussion started last month (see the CHE call hosted on March 24th) on major new analysis entitled, Burden of Disease and Costs of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in the European Union published in the March 2015 issue of the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The new economic report found exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals likely costs the European Union €157 billion ($175 billion).

On this call speakers explored the particular role endocrine disrupting chemicals play in the development of obesity and diabetes, and the financial burden imposed on society because of these exposures. Speakers discussed the methodology and findings of their paper Obesity, Diabetes, and Associated Costs of Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in the EU, including which chemicals appear to be of most concern, and suggested what might be done to minimize exposures to EDCs in order to reduce the costs to society associated with these diseases.

Featured Speakers

Bruce Blumberg, PhD, Professor, Developmental & Cell Biology, School of Biological Sciences; Professor Pharmaceutical Sciences; Professor, Biomedical Engineering,The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine.

The Blumberg laboratory is broadly interested in the study of gene regulation and intercellular signaling during embryonic development and physiology. Current research focuses on the role of nuclear hormone receptors in development, physiology and disease. Particular interests include patterning of the vertebrate nervous system, the differential effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on laboratory model organisms compared with humans, interactions between xenobiotic metabolism, inflammation, and cancer, and the role of environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals on the development of obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Blumberg and his colleagues originated the obesogen hypothesis which holds that developmental exposure to EDCs can induce permanent physiological changes. EDC exposure elicits epigenetic alterations in gene expression that reprograms the fate of mesenchymal stem cells, predisposing them to become fat cells. Exposed animals develop more and larger fat cells, despite normal diet and exercise which is likely to lead to weight gain and obesity over time.

Juliette Legler, PhD, Professor of Toxicology and Environmental Health at the Institute for Environmental Studies of the VU University Amsterdam. With a background in environmental toxicology and molecular biology, Dr. Legler has developed test methods to study the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Her research with zebrafish, rodent and in vitro models has expanded to understanding the effects and underlying mechanisms of chemical exposure during development in humans. As coordinator of the EU project OBELIX and recipient of a Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research VIDI grant, she researches the role of exposure to chemicals in obesity. Legler also coordinates the VU’s Master program in Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology and has served on various advisory and review boards, including the Dutch Health Council and OECD.

The call was moderated by Elise Miller, MEd, Director, CHE.