Human health impact and cost estimates attributed to endocrine disrupting chemicals not evidence-based

Posted By News On May 31, 2017 - 7:44pm

Economic papers released in 2015 and 2016 estimated the burden of diseases attributable to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), also known as environmental estrogens, and experts suspected right away that these calculations were flawed.

Nonetheless, regulatory bodies on both sides of the Atlantic are moving forward with two relatively distinct approaches to identifying and regulating EDCs.

A critique of the underlying methodology used to generate the cost estimates has been published.

Michigan-based epidemiologist Gregory G. Bond, Ph.D., Michigan, and toxicologist Professor Daniel R. Dietrich, Ph.D., University of Konstanz, uncovered substantial flaws in the underlying methodology of the economic papers, including a failure to use good systematic review methodology, a lack of transparency in reporting how the literature was searched and which studies were selected for review, as well as a failure to achieve a balance of perspectives through a selection of certain members for the review panel.

"We saw a disturbing disconnect between what the media was reporting about the cost estimates, and what scientific experts were saying about their potential flaws and limitations." said Bond. "Given the perceived relevance of the estimates to the ongoing debate in both the U.S. and EU on how best to screen, identify and regulate EDCs, we felt a more thorough scrutiny of the analysis and underlying assumptions was in order."

Dietrich says, "Frankly, we were surprised that the astronomical cost estimates contained in these reports didn't give more people pause. In the past, media and scientific journals might have questioned incomprehensibly inflated data and refused to report it. Today, the new norm has become, quite alarmingly, to support it or, worse, to accept manuscripts that report unproven findings of presumed effects one would like to see. The sensational response that ensues might be a win for the authors and news outlets, but it is hardly a victory for public health or credible science as a whole.

Bond, G.G. & Dietrich, D.R. Human cost burden of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. A critical review. Arch Toxicol (2017)