How do your hormones work? – Emma Bryce

Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body coordinating complex processes like growth, metabolism, and fertility. They can influence the function of the immune system, and even alter behavior. Before birth, they guide development of the brain and reproductive system. Hormones are the reason why your arms are the same length, why you can turn food into fuel, and why you changed from head to toe at puberty. It is thanks to these chemicals that distant parts of the body communicate with one another during elaborate, and important, events.Hormone disrupting chemicals, or “endocrine disruptors,” can act at any point along this hormone signaling pathway. Some are hormone mimics: they bind the receptor and send a false signal – one not commanded by the brain. Others block the action of a natural hormone, keeping it from binding its receptor and having an effect. Endocrine disruptors can also alter the amount of hormone synthesized, how fast it is degraded, or the way in which a target cell responds. All of these mechanisms of action can have the same effect: disrupted development in an embryo, or altered functioning in an adult.