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Pesticides may increase risk of endometriosis

Pesticides may increase the risk of endometriosis research study warns. Study findings warn about the environmental effects on the health of women of reproductive age.

Research conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center revealed that two organochlorine pesticides are linked to endometriosis in women of reproductive age. Researchers collected data from two study groups: a group of 248 women diagnosed with endometriosis, and a second control group of 538 healthy women. All women were of reproductive age among 18 and 40 year old.

The study found that women who were exposed at greater level at such pesticides (beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, mirex) were 30-70% more likely to suffer from endometriosis. These results, suggesting that pesticides may increase risk of endometriosis, were published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

pesticides endometriosis

Environmental chemicals used in the past could impact the reproductive health of future generations

The PhD scientist who led the study, Victoria Holt, originally thought of investigating pesticides effects on female reproductive health as it has been previously shown that organochlorine pesticides can have estrogenic properties, mimicking the effects of estrogens (reproductive hormones). It is also known that endometriosis is an estrogen dependent disease so it would make sense if such chemicals negatively affect the female reproductive system is some way.

Endometriosis is the pathogenic condition where the womb tissue lining grows outside of the womb and attaches to other organs. It is a painful, chronic condition and because of that thousands of women visit fertility clinics for treatments.

Nowadays, it is estimated that the number of women diagnosed with the disease has greatly increased since 1940 with millions of women over the globe affected, making them struggle with infertility problems as well.

Since endometriosis is the effect of hormonal imbalances it is quite possible that pesticides do exactly that. In animal studies, organochlorine pesticides have been found to alter the uterus and ovaries function as well as causing hormonal imbalances.

According to lead author of the study, Kristen Upson, the surprising fact about the results is that these pesticides were detected in the blood of the women, increasing the risk of endometriosis, while being banned in the U.S. “the message here is that environmental chemicals used in the past could  impact the reproductive health of future generations” she commented.

Are you aware of ways to avoid pesticides in your diet and protect your fertility?

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