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Exposure to Environmental Chemicals Impacts Fertility
October 23, 2012
A new study find exposure to an environmental endocrine-disrupting chemical is associated with earlier onset of menopause.
The research team from Washington University in St. Louis demonstrated that chemicals found in the environment can impact the way our body’s endocrine system produces hormones which control ovarian function.
Analyzing data from the National Health and Nutriton Examination Survey between 1999 and 2002, the team looked at over 5,000 cases of adult women who were not currently pregnant, breastfeeding, or using estrogen therapy, and did not have a history surgical ovarian removal.
Results indicated that women’s last menstrual period and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels were linked to their exposure to dioxin (a byproduct of burning chemicals and plastics containing chlorine), polychlorinated biphenyls/persistent pesticide (PCB; contaminate that may be found in fish), phthalate (chemical used in production of plastic), and phytoestrogen (can be found in plants and products containing soy).
Women exposed to PCB and phthalates reported last menses slightly over 2 years earlier than women who were not exposed to either of these chemicals.
While further research is warranted to determine the full impact of these chemicals on human health, it is advised that we minimize our exposure to them when possible.