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Pure Appl. Chem., Vol. 70, No. 9, pp. 1617-1631, 1998

Natural and anthropogenic environmental oestrogens:
the scientific basis for risk assessment

Endocrine disrupters as environmental signallers: an introduction

P. Preziosi
Department of Pharmacology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, L.go F. Vito, I-00168 Rome, Italy.

E-mail: [email protected]

Abstract: After an historical overview of the endocrine damage to wildlife caused by environmental xenobiotics (to be distinguished from natural phytoestrogens), the most important groups of environmental pollutants endowed with endocrine activity are reviewed showing that the reproductive system is not the only apparatus affected although it is the most common target of the xenoestrogens. The mechanisms of action of putative endocrine disrupters are then discussed. In this hormonal context, the relationships between the latter compounds and breast cancer are discussed. The analytical approaches to identify environmental pollutants with estrogen activity, in particular oestrogens, are also briefly reviewed. Finally, difficulties in correlating xenobiotic activity to reduced sperm counts, breast cancer and endocrine changes are highlighted.

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