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UMass biology professor to hold lecture on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

UMASS

A link between some industrial chemicals and human diseases has been established by many scientists. Now, a newly released study states that chronic disease worldwide is higher than ever because of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals.

On Monday, UMass biology Professor R. Thomas Zoeller will discuss his pioneering research into how fetal brain development can be disrupted by industrial chemicals.

His lecture, titled “The Brain on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals,” is part of the school’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series. During the talk, Zoeller will discuss how findings from his laboratory research here at UMass point to implications for public health protection, and are helping to inform a worldwide debate on the topic of industrial chemicals.

Last week, the United Nations and the World Health Organization announced the release of a new document stating that chronic disease worldwide is higher than it has ever been, and concluding that EDCs are a global threat to public health, according to Zoeller.

According to the Endocrine Society, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals are defined as substances in our environment, food and consumer products that interfere with hormone synthesis, metabolism or action, which may result in deviations from normal bodily function.

Zoeller was an editor and senior writer for the UN/WHO paper, and recently returned from a trip to Ispra, Italy and Brussels, Belgium, where he spoke with the European Commission about EDCs.  He was also an author of the Endocrine Society’s Scientific Statement, published in 2009, which stated that EDCs are a public health hazard.

Zoeller’s laboratory research focuses on how thyroid hormones, which are essential for normal brain development, can be disrupted by these chemicals that many are exposed to.

According to the UMass Biology Department website, EDCs have a similar structure to thyroid hormone and have been found to affect brain development in the fetus. These chemicals can alter circulating levels of thyroid hormone in the body.

“Any factor that affects maternal thyroid function, or thyroid hormone action, can potentially influence early brain development,” the website stated.

Zoeller’s lecture will take place at 4 p.m. in the Massachusetts Room at the Mullins Center. At the conclusion of the talk, Zoeller will receive the Chancellor’s Medal, according to a University email. This is the highest honor faculty can be granted by the University.

The lecture is free and open to the public, and will immediately be followed by a reception.

Aviva Luttrell can be reached at aluttrel@student.umass.edu.

 

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