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Two Pesticides Increase The Risk Of Endometriosis In Women

Update Date: Nov 05, 2013 03:12 PM EST
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Two dangerous pesticides are linked to increasing the risk of endometriosis in reproductive-age women according to a new study. 

"For many women, the symptoms of endometriosis can be chronic and debilitating, negatively affecting health-related quality of life, personal relationships and work productivity," lead and corresponding author Kristen Upson, Ph.D., who was a predoctoral research fellow in epidemiology at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington, said in a news release. 

She added, "Since endometriosis is an estrogen-driven condition, we were interested in investigating the role of environmental chemicals that have estrogenic properties, such as organochlorine pesticides, on the risk of the disease." 

According to the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, "Endometriosis is a noncancerous condition that occurs when the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, or womb, grows outside of the organ and attaches to other structures or organs." 

Researchers said that the illness affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes and lining of the pelvic cavity. The symptoms for endometriosis include chronic pelvic pain, painful menstrual periods and infertility. 

For the study researchers gathered 248 women who were recently diagnosed with endometriosis and 538 women who did not have the disease. 

"We found it interesting that despite organochlorine pesticides being restricted in use or banned in the U.S. for the past several decades, these chemicals were detectable in the blood samples of women in our study and were associated with increased endometriosis risk," Upson said. "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." 

Researchers found that women with higher exposures to the two pesticides beta-hexachlorocyclohexane and mirex acquired a 30 to 70 percent chance of developing endometriosis. 

"Given these actions, it's plausible that organochlorine pesticides could increase the risk of an estrogen-driven disease such as endometriosis," Upson said. "We hope our findings will help inform current global policymaking to reduce or eliminate their use."

The findings are published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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