Monday, March 05, 2012

Study links infertility in men to chemicals

Many couples are struggling with infertility.
New research shows that high levels of organochlorine chemicals PCBs and a DDT breakdown product can lead to an extra sex chromosome for men and contribute to fertility problems.

Although the chemicals have long been banned due to health concerns, they still persist in the environment and in people. DDT’s breakdown form p,p’-DDE is very stable and can be found in most people, since it accumulates in fatty tissue.

According to the study involving men in Massachusetts, the male participants with higher levels of the chemicals in their blood were also up to 60 percent more likely to have sperm with too many sex chromosomes.

The chemicals may also be to blame for decreased quality of sperm.

An embryo or fetus with an abnormal number of chromosomes is one of the leading causes of miscarriages and birth defects.

Both the mother and the father donate a chromosome in the egg – an X from the mother and an X or Y from the father (when the chromosomes come together at fertilization, it will be XX for the girl and XY for a boy).

The study shows that the abnormal number of sex chromosomes overwhelmingly comes from the fathers and while several reasons may be to blame, researchers have identified environmental exposure as one possible cause.

Besides the chemicals mentioned above, researchers have identified benzene and some pesticides as having similar effects on sperm.

The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Source: Environmental Health News

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