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TheScientificWorldJOURNAL
Volume 1 (2001), Pages 653-655
http://dx.doi.org/10.1100/tsw.2001.359
Directions in Science

Symbiotic Gene Activation is Interrupted by Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Environmental Endocrinolgy Laboratory, Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane University, Tulane University Medical School, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

Academic Editor: Lawrence A. Frohman

Copyright © 2001 Jennifer E. Fox et al.

Abstract

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) include organochlorine pesticides, plastics manufacturing by-products, and certain herbicides[1]. These chemicals have been shown to disrupt hormonal signaling in exposed wildlife, lab animals, and mammalian cell culture by binding to estrogen receptors (ER-α and ER-β) and affecting the expression of estrogen responsive genes[2,3]. Additionally, certain plant chemicals, termed phytoestrogens, are also able to bind to estrogen receptors and modulate gene expression, and as such also may be considered EDCs[4]. One example of phytoestrogen action is genistein, a phytochemical produced by soybeans, binding estrogen receptors, and changing expression of estrogen responsive genes which certain studies have linked to a lower incidence of hormonally related cancers in Japanese populations[5]. Why would plants make compounds that are able to act as estrogens in the human body? Obviously, soybeans do not intentionally produce phytoestrogens to prevent breast cancer in Japanese women.