Endocrine disruptors: Challenges and future directions in epidemiologic research


Public concern about the impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on both humans and the environment is growing steadily. Epidemiologic research provides key information towards our understanding of the relationship between environmental exposures like EDCs and human health outcomes. Intended for researchers in disciplines complementary to epidemiology, this paper highlights the importance and challenges of epidemiologic research in order to present the key elements pertaining to the design and interpretation of an epidemiologic study on EDCs. The conduct of observational studies on EDCs derives from a thoughtful research question, which will help determine the subsequent methodological choices surrounding the careful selection of the study population (including the comparison group), the adequate ascertainment of exposure(s) and outcome(s) of interest, and the application of methodological and statistical concepts more specific to epidemiology. The interpretation of epidemiologic results may be arduous due to the latency occurring between EDC exposure and certain outcome(s), the complexity in capturing EDC exposure(s), and traditional methodological and statistical issues that also deserve consideration (e.g., confounding, effect modification, non-monotonic responses). Moving forward, we strongly advocate for an integrative approach of expertise in the fields of epidemiology, exposure science, risk assessment and toxicology to adequately study the health risks associated with EDCs while tackling their challenges.

Authors: V Ho, L Pelland-St-Pierre, S Gravel, M F Bouchard, M-A Verner, F Labrèche
; Full Source: Environmental research 2021 Aug 27;204(Pt A):111969. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111969.