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Consequences of Endocrine Disruptors

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors Can Affect Generations of Health

Reproductive Dysfunction Resulting From Endocrine Disruptors
Reproductive Dysfunction Is One Of The Many Serious Consequences of Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors

A good example of the devastating consequences of exposure to endocrine disruptors is the use of diethylstilbestrol (DES). For almost 30 years, this synthetic estrogen was prescribed to as many as 5 million women to help prevent spontaneous abortion and promote fetal growth. A clinical report published in 1971 associated DES with vaginal adenocarcinoma. This rare form of reproductive tract cancer was detected in a small number of adolescent daughters of women who had taken the drug while pregnant. A later discovery showed an adverse effect on the reproductive systems of the DES-exposed daughters and was the determinant cause of vaginal cancer. An estimated 95% of these DES-exposed daughters experienced frequent genitourinary tract problems including: · Reproductive dysfunction

· Abnormal pregnancies

· Reduced fertility

· Immune system disorders Similarly, male offspring with prenatal DES exposure experienced:

· Hypospadias, a birth defect in boys in which the opening of the urethra is not located at the tip of the penis.

· Microphallus (micropenis),defined as a stretched penile length of less than 2.5 standard deviations (SDs) below the mean for age.

· Retained testes (undescended testicle), or a testicle that hasn't moved into its proper position in the scrotum before birth.

· Decreased fertility It was also shown that DES could pass through the placenta and have direct effects on a developing fetus. This medical catastrophe became the first example of an in-utero toxicant in humans. Multiple studies have reported decline in both the quality and quantity of sperm production showing the generational effects a chemical hormone disruptor can have. Historically speaking, DES is thought to be the first endocrine-disrupting chemical but in truth, it is likely just the first known. Thankfully, DES is no longer used in pregnant women, but it is still a therapeutic option for other medical conditions. As far as the children of DES-exposed women are concerned, females face a significantly higher risk for certain cancers and infertility. We are still dealing with the ramifications of exposure that occurred more than 50 years ago. More recently, second-generation effects have been reported putting yet another generation at risk for developing further serious health consequences as the result of their grandmothers’ exposure to a single toxic endocrine disrupter.

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