Estrogenic pesticides and endometriosis risk

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Endometriosis affect about 10% of women in their reproductive years. Two organochlorine pesticides, which were once widely used in the US but have since been banned, are linked to an increased risk of the chronic condition causing infertility.

Causes of endometriosis are unknown

Endometriosis is characterized by tissue which normally lines the inside of the uterus growing outside the uterus and attaching to other areas and organs. This can affect the ovaries, fallopian tube and the lining of the pelvic cavity. Symptoms include painful menstrual periods, pelvic pain and infertility. It is not a very clearly understood disease.

Investigation of estrogenic organochlorine pesticides

“For many women, the symptoms of endometriosis can be chronic and debilitating negatively affecting health-related quality of life, personal relationships and work productivity,” said Kristen Upson, PhD, study author who is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Because endometriosis is led by estrogen, Upson explained that her team was “interested in investigating the role of environmental chemicals that have estrogenic properties, such as organochlorine pesticides, on the risk of the disease.”

Banned chemicals still in the environment and entering our bodies

The two organochlorines which were revealed in this study were beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (banned in 1985) and mirex (banned in 1976). Both have estrogenic properties. Results showed that women who had higher exposures to these two pesticides had a 30-70% increased risk of endometriosis. These chemicals, though banned more than twenty years ago, were found in the blood samples of women from the study. “The take-home message from our study,” explained Upson, “is that the persistent environmental chemicals, even those used in the past, may affect the health of the current generation of reproductive-age women with regard to a hormonally driven disease.”

“Given these actions,” said Upson, “it’s plausible that organochlorine pesticides could increase the risk of an estrogen that -driven disease such as endometriosis.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday


 
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