Study Links PCB's and Chlorinated Pesticides to Testicular Cancer

From: Robina Suwol
Date: 17 Mar 2003
Time: 00:17:55
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Date: 13 Mar 2003
From: "Peter Montague" {}

Lennart Hardell and colleagues report a strong association between testicular cancer risk for a man and the levels of organochlorines [OCs] in his mother's [blood] serum. They found only a limited link between OCs in the man's own blood and the likelihood of developing testicular cancer.

Although testicular cancer is a disease primarily of young adulthood, growing evidence points to developmental failure in the fetal testis as its principal origin. A number of factors have been suggested as possible causes of this developmental failure, including endocrine [hormone] disrupting chemicals [EDCs].

Evidence supporting the role of EDCs, however, has been circumstantial and indirect: Dramatic increases in the incidence of testicular cancer over time suggest an environmental link. Associations between testicular cancer and 3 other testicular maladies (impaired sperm quality, cryptorchidism and hypospadias) suggest a common origin and have been linked in what is now called the "testicular dysgenesis syndrome." EDC compounds can induce these other maladies in laboratory animals.

This new study by Hardell et al. presents the strongest epidemiological link reported to date between testicular cancer and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Hardell et al.'s central findings are that (1) mothers with higher organochlorine levels are significantly more likely to have given birth to sons who develop testicular cancer; and (2) in contrast, the sons themselves for the most part do not have elevated organochlorine levels compared to men without testicular cancer.

While this result falls short of proving that developmental disruption by organochlorine contamination in the womb sets the stage for testicular cancer in adulthood, it strengthens the case significantly. No other mechanism would be consistent with the central findings of this study.

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The original study appeared here: Hardell, L, B van Bavel, G
Lindstrom, M Carlberg, AC Dreifaldt, H Wijkstrom H Starkhammar, M Eriksson, A Hallquist and T Kolmert. 2003. Increased Concentrations of Polychlorinated Biphenyls, Hexachlorobenzene and Chlordanes in Mothers to Men with Testicular Cancer. Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 111 (dec. 19, 2002).

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