Endocrine disruptors (EDCs) are chemicals that interrupt the processes of natural hormones and have been previously implicated in affecting human reproduction.
Monday, May 12, 2014 (Medical News Today)
Now, these chemicals – which can be found in household and personal care products – have been shown to affect sperm function, potentially impacting fertilization.
A recent study published in the journal European Molecular Biology Organization reports that EDCs are present in everything from food and textiles to drugs and household products, including plastic bottles, toys and cosmetics.
With a new bioassay developed by the researchers from the Center of Advanced European Studies and Research in Germany and the University Department of Growth and Reproduction in Denmark, they were able to rapidly test hundreds to thousands of chemicals for potential interference with function of human sperm.
They explain that for their study, they tested about 100 chemicals and found significant results that suggest endocrine disruptors may lead to widespread fertility issues in the Western world in a way that has not been identified until now.
The team’s findings reveal that about one third of these chemical showed adverse reactions.
Some of these chemical include ultraviolet filters such as 4-methybenzylidene camphor (4-MBC), which is used in some sunscreens, and Tirclosan, an anti-bacterial agent used in toothpaste.
“For the first time,” says Prof. Niels E. Skakkebaek, leader of the Danish team, “we have shown a direct link between exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals from industrial products and adverse effects on human sperm function.”
They looked specifically at how these chemicals affected the CatSper ion channel, which they explain is a calcium channel that controls sperm motility.
Applied at concentrations they measured in bodily fluids, the team says EDCs directly open the CatSper channel, increasing calcium levels in sperm and changing their swimming behavior. The investigators say this also triggers the release of digestive enzymes that help the sperm to break through the egg.
Additionally, EDCs make sperm less sensitive to progesterone and prostaglandins, which are two hormones released by cells around the egg.
The authors conclude their study by writing: “Here we provide a direct link between exposure to EDCs and potential adverse effects on fertilization in humans. About 800 omnipresent man-made chemicals are suspected to interfere with the endocrine system. To this day, the majority of these potential EDCs have not been evaluated for their action in humans.”
Sperm health is based on three factors – morphology (shape), mobility, and DNA fragmentation. I commented on increasing DNA fragmentation rates in my blog “Study Questions Safety Thresholds for Hormone Disrupting Chemicals” posted on April 25, 2014. Now we see evidence of adverse effects on mobility as well.
EDCs are everywhere. As I have noted previously, subjects have to fast in order to test EDC elimination rates from the body as our intake of these man-made chemicals is constant. Omnipresent is a term usually reserved for God, but it is an apt description of EDCs as well. They are in our drinking water, even the air we breathe. Unfortunately, government regulations do not require that these compounds be measured in our food, drink, or topical products.
These hundreds of hormone look-a-likes confuse the endocrine system. Please refer to the Wednesday Wisdom blogs starting on May 14th to learn just how challenging evaluation and treatment of the endocrine system can be.
EDCs must be processed through both phase one and phase two liver detoxification. Prior to the introduction of man-made chemicals into our environment, the only chemicals that required phase two liver detoxification were the hormones we made in our bodies and alcohol. Today there are literally tens of thousands of man-made chemicals that must pass through both phases of liver detoxification to be cleared from the body.
Unfortunately, EDCs, like real hormones are much more toxic after phase one detoxification. Until or unless the body can make them water soluble in phase two, they remain as potential carcinogens.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Read the labels on your food and personal use products. If you don’t recognize the ingredients, don’t use it. This is just another reason to avoid tap water and bottled water as well. Drink distilled water whenever possible. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to the point that we need bottled air.