Researchers have previously found a negative effect of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on fish. The effect has been noted in clinical journals. This study, completed by the University of Exeter and the University of Brussels, digs deeper into the effects of EDCs on reproduction.

Oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, and dishwashing liquid may contain EDCs. Most are widely tested and considered safe for use in the human population, but what are the effects of medications that change the endocrine system on a basic level? According to researchers, it can reduce the ability of fish to reproduce. Many animal species, including fish, have a similar hormone profile to humans. Researchers are concerned about the fish population and their inability to reproduce as a result of large-scale exposure to EDCs. However, it is the potential impact on the human race that is also concerning.

Fish affected by EDCs often become intersexed, which means they have both male and female reproductive abilities. Researchers have found these fish may suffer from a 76% reduction in reproductive ability thanks to EDCs in water supplies. These same water supplies often feed into residential areas and may, theoretically, affect human reproductive ability.

Professor Charles Tyler assessed: "Fish still share many biological links with humans and the fact that their reproduction has the potential to be affected by EDCs is certainly a cause for concern. From a risk assessment point of view, these results are very significant."

Source: Catherine A. Harris, Patrick B. Hamilton, Tamsin J. Runnalls, Veronica Vinciotti, Alan Henshaw, Dave Hodgson, Tobias S. Coe, Susan Jobling, Charles R. Tyler, John P. Sumpter. Environmental Health Perspectives. 8 October 2010.

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