Endocrine Disruptors and Contaminants of Diet


In this UC we propose the learning of aspects related to endocrine disrupters and contaminants associated with Human Nutrition. Students will be able to:

a) Understand basic concepts of exposure to endocrine disrupters and other contaminants through diet and identify potential sources of exposure;
b) Identify different methods of exposure assessment;
c) Understand the effects and mechanisms of action of endocrine disrupters and contaminants, as well as methodologies for demonstrating their biological action;
d) Understand the importance of exposure windows;
e) Identify the importance of eating habits and orientated food choices on exposure and its effects;
f) Design methodologies to control and mitigate exposure to contaminated food;
g) Be identified as an 'opinion leader' in the area of Food Toxicology.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Prof. Doutor Diogo Pestana


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





·        Shibamoto, T., Bjeldanes, L.F. (2009). Introduction to food toxicology. 2nd Edition. Academic Press. Elsevier

·        WHO (World Health Organization)/UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) The State-of-the-Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals - 2012 (Bergman Å, Heindel JJ, Jobling S, Kidd KA, Zoeller RT, eds). Geneva:UNEP/WHO. 2013

·        Gore, A.C., Crews, D., Doan, L.L., Merill, L.L., Patisaul, H., Zota, A. (2014). Introduction to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs): a guide for public interest organizations and policy makers. Endocrine Society/IPEN Publication

·        Teixeira, D., Pestana, D., Calhau, C., Graça, P. (2014). Linhas de orientação sobre contaminantes de alimentos. Programa Nacional para a Promoção da Alimentação Saudável, Direção-Geral da Saúde. ISBN. 978-972-675-219-6

·        Gore, A.C., et al. (2015). EDC-2: The Endocrine Society's Second Scientific Statement on Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. Endocr Rev, 36(6), E1-E150

·        Heindel, J.J., et al. (2017). Metabolism disrupting chemicals and metabolic disorders. Reprod Toxicol, 68, 3-33

Teaching method

The teaching methodologies are consistent with the learning objectives. Theoretical classes offer a detailed and complete exposition of the syllabus contents and broaden the critical spirit of the student in relation to the subjects presented. The final exam aims to assess all of the knowledge acquired in theoretical and practical classes, which is a very important knowledge base for learning many topics that will be developed during the Master in Human Nutrition and Metabolism.
The evaluation of learning and teaching are implemented to enable the identification of strengths and weaknesses of the course as an important gauging tool with the aim of continuous improvement.

Evaluation method

Theoretical classes (lectures of an expositive nature, directed to large groups). 

The evaluation will be made taking into account the following parameters: Examination (100%).  Students with a grade equal to or greater than 10 (0 - 20) values in each of the evaluation elements, are approved.

Subject matter

Module 1 - Introduction to food contaminants
Role of food as a vehicle for endocrine disruptors and contaminants
Type of contaminants, potential sources of exposure and mitigation measures

Module 2 - Methods and types of exposure assessment
External exposure versus internal exposure. Concepts and methods of evaluation
Exposure and effect markers
Analytical methods for determination of contaminants. Extraction, identification, quantification
Biomonitoring and Exposome. Concepts and implications

Module 3 - Mechanisms and effects of endocrine disruptors and other contaminants
Endocrine disruption. Concept and systems involved
Effects and classification of endocrine disruptors. Synthetic and natural contaminants
Mechanisms of action of endocrine disruptors and contaminants
Acute exposure versus chronic exposure at low concentrations. Contaminant mixtures
Methodologies for assessing biological action and risk of exposure. Recommended models (in vivo and in vitro), epidemiological studies and experimental studies with humans
Interpretation of the biological effects of contaminants. Obesogenic, metabolic disruption and carcinogenic effects

 Module 4 - Effects on different exposure windows
Risk associated with exposure at different times of life cycle
Exposure windows with greater susceptibility
In utero exposure and effects in adult life. Mechanisms of action 

Module 5 - Influence of eating habits and orientated food choices on exposure
Influence of eating habits on exposure to contaminants
Interaction between natural food constituents and contaminants. Risk-benefit evaluation and mitigating effects
Methodologies to control and mitigate exposure to contaminants of food. Targeted food choices


Programs where the course is taught: