New (OK, not all that new) chemical scaremonger definition:
Endocrine disruptor [es-truh-juh n] [dis-ruhpt-tor] (noun) — Any chemical you don't like.
Alternate— Any chemical you feel like calling an endocrine disruptor
Although this is a bit ridiculous, it's not much more so than what is passing for science these days. More on that to follow.
Let's assume for a moment that endocrine disruptors are lurking all over the planet, and that you should avoid them at all cost. Then, would you want to buy and eat one? Even if Dr. Oz were selling it? Of course not! At least in a sane world—a place we can only imagine.
The quintessential endocrine disruptor (1) is BPA, which you must be SO sick of hearing about that I apologize in advance for even mentioning it. But, BPA is the poster child of endocrindisruptophiles everywhere, because they believe that it uses a molecular GPS system that NASA would envy to track down, and hang onto estrogen receptors, like Carmelo Anthony does to a basketball. Therefore, it "causes" so many maladies that the list of chemicals alone would be sufficient to sustain a filibuster in Congress.
Given that BPA been used for 59 years, it is nothing short of astounding that women aren't walking around with handlebar mustaches, and men wearing sports bras.
The origin of the BPA scare is that it looks chemically like estradiol (and therefore should act like it). But, as a chemist, I don't really see it:
Although there are some similarities between the two (blue), there are more differences (black). For those of you who are not into chemical structures, the following makes the same point:
If the two chemicals above don't look a lot alike, here are a couple that sure do:
On the left is one of the dreaded parabens, ethyl paraben. There are not very many nice things that have been said about this unfortunate chemical (2). On the right is 4-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-2-butanone. You may know it by a more appealing (although profoundly inaccurate) name, raspberry ketone—Dr. Oz's "magic fat burner."
Some people have said some very nice things about Raspberry ketone, and by coincidence, Dr. Oz it one of them: “I’ve got the number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat!"
It would seem that Oz made a couple of little errors. Perhaps "Miracle in my bank account" was what he meant, since Raspberry ketone (which is NOT made from raspberries) is not a "miracle fat burner." It does absolutely nothing. The second error he made was stepping into a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing that was being conducted by Chairwoman Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) (3).
McCaskill: "The science...is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called miracles. If it’s something that gives people false hope, I just don’t understand why you have to go there.”
So, was Oz selling just magic junk, or maybe even a magic endocrine disrupting piece of junk? Let's hear from some very bad scientists:
Joe Mercola, NRDC, or EGW (2), all hate it. So, if by some chance, ethyl paraben is doing anything bad to your "endocrines," it's a decent bet that Raspberry ketone will do it too (4). These two chemicals sure do look alike to a chemist:
But when you overlay them, the similarity really shows up.The only substantial difference between the two is the relative position of the carbonyl (C=O) groups (orange squares):
Will the rather small difference in chemical structure between ethyl paraben and the Raspberry ketone turn the latter into something that is going to make a penis grow out of your ear? Who knows? Oz sure doesn't?
How could he? It's magic!
(1) I don't even like the term, and will be writing more about this.
(2) Joe Mercola: "New research has detected the presence of paraben esters in 99 percent of breast cancer tissues sampled."
NRDC: "Parabens-antimicrobials used in food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics; mimics estrogen, found in tumors and has been shown to damage DNA in sperm."
EWG: "About ETHYLPARABEN: Ethylparaben is in the paraben family of preservatives used by the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care product industries. Parabens mimic estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors."
(3) To read more on the evisceration of Oz by McCaskill, see "The Lizard Of Oz Takes His Own Medicine."
(4) Other chemicals, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) have been called endocrine disruptors. Chemically, they have much less similarity to estradiol than anything on this page.