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Endocrine Disruptors and Human Health: Is There a Problem? An Update

Stephen H. Safe
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 108, No. 6 (Jun., 2000), pp. 487-493
DOI: 10.2307/3454608
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3454608
Page Count: 7
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Endocrine Disruptors and Human Health: Is There a Problem? An Update
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Abstract

It has been hypothesized that environmental exposure to synthetic estrogenic chemicals and related endocrine-active compounds may be responsible for a global decrease in sperm counts, decreased male reproductive capacity, and breast cancer in women. Results of recent studies show that there are large demographic variations in sperm counts within countries or regions, and analyses of North American data show that sperm counts have not decreased over the last 60 years. Analyses of records for hypospadias and cryptorchidism also show demographic differences in these disorders before 1985; however, since 1985 rates of hypospadias have not changed and cryptorchidism has actually declined. Temporal changes in sex ratios and fertility are minimal, whereas testicular cancer is increasing in most countries; however, in Scandinavia, the difference between high (Denmark) and low (Finland) incidence areas are not well understood and are unlikely to be correlated with differences in exposure to synthetic industrial chemicals. Results from studies on organochlorine contaminants (DDE/PCB) show that levels were not significantly different in breast cancer patients versus controls. Thus, many of the male and female reproductive tract problems linked to the endocrine-disruptor hypothesis have not increased and are not correlated with synthetic industrial contaminants. This does not exclude an endocrine-etiology for some adverse environmental effects or human problems associated with high exposures to some chemicals.

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