The endocrine system regulates all biological processes that are carried out in the body from conception through adulthood and into old age. These include the development of the nervous system, growth and function of the reproductive system, as well as metabolism and blood sugar levels.
Endocrine Disruptors in Mammals
Endocrine disruptors are actually comprised of a large number of chemicals, both natural and man-made. These most commonly include pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and many more. Endocrine disruptors may be found in many everyday products, including plastic and metal products, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and others. The most troubling characteristic of many endocrine disruptors is that many of them function much like natural products of the body, mimicing their natural properties, and causing many body systems to act in ways that are not normal. A good example of this would be a growth hormone that creates muscle mass in amounts that are not normal or that occur at a time when they should not. Endocrine disruptors can also can certain systems to not perform the functions they were designed to do. Common examples of this are birth control pills, which halt ovulation and as a result prevent pregnancy. In other instances, such as in the case of environmental endocrine disruptors, the results are not desirable in humans or wildlife.