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Endocrine System

Endocrine Disorders

As much as 10% of the population will experience some endocrine disorder in their lifetime. Most endocrine disorders are caused by a heightened or diminished level of particular hormones. For example, excess growth hormone can cause giantism (unusually large stature). Tumors in endocrine glands are one of the major causes of hormone overproduction.

Hormone underproduction is often due to a mutation in the gene that codes for a particular hormone or the hormone's receptor; even if the hormone is normal, a defective receptor can render the hormone ineffective in eliciting a response. The distinction between the pancreatic endocrine disorders, diabetes mellitus types I and II, make this point very clearly. In addition, underproduction of growth hormones can lead to dwarfism. Insufficient calcitonin from the thyroid can also lead to cretinism which is also characterized by diminished stature due to low calcium availability for bone growth.

The importance of diet can not be overlooked in some endocrine disorders. For example, insufficient dietary iodine (required for T3 and T4 synthesis) can cause goiters. Goiters are enlarged thyroid glands caused by the thyroid's attempt to compensate for low iodine with increased size. Certain endocrine imbalances can also cause mental problems ranging from poor ability to concentrate to mental retardation (as in cretinism).

See also Chemoreception.

Resources

Books

Little, M. The Endocrine System. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1990.

Marieb, Elaine Nicpon. Human Anatomy & Physiology. 5th Edition. San Francisco: Benjamin/Cummings, 2000.


Louise Dickerson

KEY TERMS

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Exocrine

—Glands with ducts that direct hormones to a specific target.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Electrophoresis (cataphoresis) to EphemeralEndocrine System - History Of Endocrinology, Basic Endocrine Principles, The Pituitary, The Pineal, The Thyroid, The Parathyroids