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Study Links Pesticides to Low Semen Quality

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28 2011) Researchers found that exposure to organochlorine pesticides significantly alters semen quality in young men from southeast Spain. The study found 18 pesticides in the blood of the study participants, including some banned in Spain, such as DDT, and others legal in in the country, such as the fungicide vinclozolin.

The analysis was conducted by Clemente Aguilar from the Medical Research Laboratory of the University Hospital San Cecilio, Granada, Spain, and coordinated by Marieta Fernández, Marina Lacasaña and Nicolás Olea (University of Granada), basing on a sample of 280 volunteer students aged 18-23 years from the University of Almería, Spain.

All the study participants had at least one pesticide in considerable concentrations. The average number of pesticides detected in the blood tests was 11.

Southeast Spain is a region where two out of ten young men have poor sperm density. Even though exposure to some organochlorines proved to increase total spermatic number and total sperm motility levels, other pesticides were highly associated with a reduction in sperm levels. This might be due to the fact that some of these pesticides are considered to be estrogenic endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are substances that interfere with natural hormones in the body responsible for reproduction, development and/or behavior. In the case of vinclozolin, a known endocrine disruptor, the study showed a strong correlation between exposure to it and malformation rates in spermatozoa.

Another similar study in the United States has linked pesticides to abnormal genitals in baby boys, such as cryptorchidism and hypospadias, and decreased sperm counts in men.

Historical studies show that the quality of sperm in humans has decreased rapidly in the last 50 years. Reproductive specialists attribute a worldwide sperm count decline by approximately 50% since the1930s to exposures to high concentrations of estrogens or estrogen-like substances during embryonic, fetal, and early postnatal development.

Beyond Pesticides’ 29th National Pesticide Forum, Sustainable Community – Practical solutions for health and the environment April 8-9 in Denver, CO is a great opportunity to learn more about endocrine disruptors and their dangers to public health. The President of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) and Professor Emeritus at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Theo Colborn, PhD, is scheduled to speak. She is the author of numerous scientific publications about compounds that interfere with hormones and other chemical messengers that control development in wildlife and humans. Her incisive research has demonstrated that endocrine disrupting chemicals alter development of the fetus in the womb by interfering with the natural hormonal signals directing fetal growth. She is co-author of the groundbreaking 1996 book Our Stolen Future. Her work has prompted the enactment of new important laws around the world.

Photo Source: Inhabitots


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