A recent study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal of the National Institutes of Health by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre showed that 2 organochlorine pesticides are associated with an increased risk of endometriosis among reproductive-age women.
The study found that women with higher exposures to the pesticides beta-hexachlorocyclohexane and mirex had a 30% to 70% increase in endometriosis risk.
248 women aged between 18 and 49 years who had recently been diagnosed with endometriosis were studied. They were compared with 538 women without the disease. The women were all enrolled in Group Health Cooperative, a Seattle-based nonprofit health care system.
The data showed increased endometriosis risk associated with serum concentrations of beta-hexachlorocyclohexane and mirex. In addition, the association between serum concentrations of beta-hexachlorocyclohexane and endometriosis was stronger when restricting cases to those women with ovarian endometriosis.
“We found it interesting that despite organochlorine pesticides being restricted in use or banned in the US for the past several decades, these chemicals were detectable in the blood samples of women in our study and were associated with increased endometriosis risk“, said the lead author Kristen Upson, PhD in a news release. “The take-home message from our study is that 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.”
Studies in the past have shown that oestrogenic properties demonstrated by organochlorine that have altered the function of the uterus and ovaries, as well as hormone production.
Exposure to either extensive past use of enviromentally persistent organochlorine pesticides or current use in other currents was attributed as the cause by the authors.
“Given these actions, it’s plausible that organochlorine pesticides could increase the risk of an estrogen-driven disease such as endometriosis,” the authors stated. “We hope our findings will help inform current global policymaking to reduce or eliminate their use.”
The authors said their research provides an additional piece to the puzzle of why endometriosis develops in some women but not in others.
Organochlorines are chemicals in which carbon and chlorine are combined. Some organochlorines are found in nature and some are byproducts of combustion and industrial processes, but the vast majority many have been specifically manufactured for a wide range of uses, including pharmaceuticals, pesticides, plastics, and solvents.
The use and storage of these chemicals are banned under the Stockholm Convention for persistent organic pollutants. Organochlorine pesticides have been banned in New Zealand since 1961. They were mainly used in sheep dips and very high concentrations of these chemicals are still being measured in sheep dip sites in New Zealand. Research is underway to check on levels of persistent organochlorines in our environment.
– Two organochlorine pesticides, beta-hexachlorocyclohexane and mirex, are associated with an increased risk of endometriosis.
– The pesticides were detected in the blood samples of reproductive-age women in whom endometriosis was newly diagnosed.
Get more information about endometriosis on Wikipedia
About the Author: Naylin Appanna is a specialist Gynaecologist and Laparoscopic Surgeon, in Hamilton and Tauranga in New Zealand. Naylin Appanna did his basic training in South Africa, going on to a Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Otago, before completing his specialist training in New Zealand. He then worked at the Musgrove Park Hospital, Ryde Hospitals and the Royal Sussex County and Brighton General Hospitals in England. During this time, in the early 1990’s, he attended Advanced Laparoscopic Courses at the Leeds Institute of Minimally invasive surgery as well as Hamburg and started performing advanced Keyhole procedures well before most other gynaecologists had contemplated Laparoscopic Surgery. Naylin Appanna returned to New Zealand in 1996 and has been working as a private specialist in Hamilton and Tauranga, New Zealand since then. Not content with his surgical skills, Naylin has attended further courses in Laparoscopic Surgery including the Minims course in Brisbane and mentored other specialists in laparoscopic surgical techniques.
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