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Pesticides Linked to Endomitriosis in Women

Why do some women develop painful endometriosis and some don’t?  Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center endeavored to find out and came up with one possible contributing factor: pesticide poisoning.

Endometriosis, the growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus, causes pain and infertility. In the study, scientists worked with 248 women with surgically confirmed endometriosis and 538 healthy controls. They measured blood levels of two pesticides, mirex and beta HCH, which are common in some fish and dairy products even though their use in the United States has been banned for decades. The researchers found that women with the highest exposure to mirex had a 50% increased risk for the disease and those exposed to high levels of beta HCH had a staggering 70% increased risk. The association persisted even after adjusting for age, serum lipids, education, race and ethnicity, smoking, alcohol intake and other factors.

In an interview published in the New York Times, Kristen Upson the lead author, who was a predoctoral fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center when the work was done, said the reasons for the association are unclear. But, she said, the chemicals have been shown to interfere with normal estrogen action in animal and tissue studies, which might be a possible explanation for the illness in humans.

“Persistent environmental chemicals,” she added “even those used in the past, may affect the health of the current generation of reproductive-age women.”

Categories: Ann Quasarano, Learning

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