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Do Pesticides Increase the Risk Factors of Endometriosis?

Do Pesticides Increase the Risk Factors of Endometriosis?


Organochlorine pesticides including beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (beta-HCH), a byproduct of the insecticide lindane have been linked to an increased risk factor for endometriosis new research suggests.

The study, published online ahead of the print issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, involved 248 women with endometriosis and 538 without.  The researchers observed that women with higher exposures to two organochlorine pesticides including beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (beta-HCH) had detectable levels of these chemicals in their blood samples and had a 30-70 percent increase in endometriosis risk.

Beta-HCH Linked to Additional Diseases

In addition to this new link to endometriosis, beta-HCH has been linked to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.  Earlier research on animals shows that beta-HCH causes oxidative stress and damages the brain’s dopaminergic system, which is responsible for modulating cognitive function, enhances the efficiency of thinking and memory, and is involved in facilitating movements. [DNA Learning Center]

Pesticides Banned But Still Present

These pesticides were used extensively during the 1950s and 1960s, particularly on cotton plants. The US banned the pesticide in the 1970’s due to concerns of their bioaccumulation and toxic effects. Despite the fact that organochlorine pesticides have been banned for more than 30 years, traces can still be found in water and soil. [MedScape] “The take-home message from our study is that persistent environmental chemicals, even those used in the past, may affect the health of the current generation of reproductive-age women with regard to a hormonally driven disease,” said lead and corresponding author Kristen Upson, Ph.D. [FHCRC]


Resources: 11/5/2013

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Endometriosis risk linked to 2 pesticides


DNA Learning Center: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
The Dopamine System

Pesticides Linked to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Disease

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