Endocrine-Hormone Disrupting Chemicals and Reproductive Health

By: Dr. Spence Pentland, fertility acupuncturist in Vancouver

A large number of widely used substances (pesticides, common household items and chemicals, industrial chemicals, metals) have been shown to have estrogen-mimicking and other endocrine-hormone disrupting effects, including;

2,4-D is applied to grassy crops such as wheat, home and public lawns and gardens, and on roadsides, golf courses, forests and waterways.

Permethrin is an insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers. It has multiple uses, including head lice and scabies treatments, insect repellents, household insect foggers and sprays, tick and flea sprays for yards and pets, termite treatments, agricultural and livestock products, mosquito abatement, forestry and treatment of timber.

Dioxins are byproducts of manufacture involving chlorine. They are formed during combustion and during the production of chemical compounds containing chlorine, such as pesticides and PCBs. The production and use of some chlorinated chemicals, bleaching of paper, and waste incineration, including the uncontrolled burning of residential waste, are the major sources of dioxins. Reproductive effects, including decreased sperm production, decreased testis weight, decreased testosterone levels, delayed puberty, and endometriosis have been observed in laboratory animals.

Phthalates. Studies have found damaged, shrunken, undescended, or atrophied testicles; reduced sperm production; damaged sperm, destruction of Sertoli cells (which produce sperm) and lowered testosterone levels in offspring. Phthalates are used as softeners, or plasticizers, in polyvinyl chloride (PVC, vinyl) products, including children’s toys, some teethers, food packaging and cling wraps, medical devices, backpacks, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, wallpaper, decorating and building products, blood bags, adhesives, mosquito insect repellents, plastic plumbing pipes, nail polish, skin moisturizers, perfumes, solvents, cosmetics, personal care products, wood finishes and insecticides.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, considered a heavy metal. It is used as a preservative in wood (e.g., pressure-treated lumber- decks, fences, playground equipment, and residential construction), insecticides, weed killers, fungicides, glass production, semiconductors, to make metal alloys (used in lead-acid car batteries, for example), some medications, and home and agricultural fertilizers.

Lead. The most significant sources of lead continue to be old paint in homes built before 1978, lead pipes placed before the 1930s, and soil by highways and heavily traveled roads. Reproductive effects including decreased fertility, increased rates of miscarriage, pre-term delivery, low birth weight, low sperm count, erectile dysfunction, abnormal sperm shape and size.

Mercury. The most common organic form of mercury accumulates in the flesh of fish, animals and humans, most particularly predatory fish species, such as shark and tuna, and bottom-feeders, such as crab. Animals exposed orally to long-term, high levels in laboratory studies experienced adverse effects on the developing fetus, sperm, and male reproductive organs; and increases in the number of spontaneous abortions and stillbirths.

Collectively, because these substances have estrogen-mimicking effects, they are known as ‘endocrine (hormonal) disruptors’.

Dr. Spence Pentland is a board licensed Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and certified Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Since 2004 Spence has focused exclusively on the treatment of reproductive disorders in both men and women in Vancouver Canada. To book an appointment or for a free 15 minute phone consultation visit DrSpencePentland.com (Vancouver fertility acupuncture). He and his wife are also ‘bringing sexy back to baby-making’ with their new line of ‘fertility friendly’ men’s underwear!