Men's phthalate exposure associated with fertility problems

Sunday, March 23, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: phthalate exposure, fertility problems, fecundity

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(NaturalNews) A class of chemicals commonly used in plastics, food packaging and personal care products like shampoos and fragrances has been shown in a new study to obstruct the ability of men to get women pregnant. Research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that, compared to men not exposed to phthalates, those who are tend to have a much more difficult time conceiving, likely due to the chemicals' hormone-disrupting effects.

Published in the American Society of Reproductive Medicine journal Fertility and Sterility, the new study looked at 500 couples trying to get pregnant. Each couple was tested for 14 different phthalate metabolites, as well as for bisphenol-A (BPA), the infamous plastics chemical that numerous studies have found cause endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, delayed or disrupted maturation of egg cells, and even hindered growth and development of reproductive organs.

Each couple involved in the study was instructed to keep a journal logging how often and when the two partners engaged in sexual intercourse with each other, as well as the timing of the woman's menstrual cycles and any pregnancy tests that she took. Utilizing high-performance liquid chromatography combined with electrospray triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry, the research team evaluated each couple until either a positive human-chorionic gonadotropin pregnancy test was achieved or the woman went through 12 menstrual cycles without achieving pregnancy.

This data was then compiled with data on levels of phthalates and BPA to look for any correlations between exposure to the chemicals and difficulties getting pregnant. Based on this approach, it was determined that men exposed to three phthalates in particular -- monomethyl, mono-n-butyl and monobenzyl phthalates -- had an average reduction in fecundity, or the ability to produce offspring, of about 20 percent.

"[E]xposure to certain phthalates can reduce the chance of conception for otherwise healthy couples," said study author Germaine Buck Louis, director of population health research at NIH, in a statement about the study. "The delays in pregnancy we saw were comparable to those seen for cigarette smoking, or with obesity."

You can view an abstract of the new study here:

Mainstream media hypocrisy puts millions at risk of hormone damage

While the new research focuses specifically on how phthalates affect men, earlier studies have found similar outcomes in women exposed to phthalates. Back in November, for instance, a study out of Boston found that phthalate-exposed women who successfully get pregnant are more likely than non-exposed women to have a preterm delivery.

After testing a group of 130 women who had given birth early for common phthalates such as DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) and comparing this data to birth times among non-exposed women, the research team learned that women with the highest levels of phthalate metabolites in their urine are up to 500 percent more likely than other women to deliver their babies early.

"For women who are interested in reducing their exposure, reducing use of personal care products, buying phthalate-free [products] when possible, and eating fresher foods may help," says John Meeker, an associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan (UM) School of Public Health, one of the authors of the aforementioned study.

And yet, this and other evidence demonstrating the harm caused by exposure to phthalates and BPA is constantly minimized or denied by many health authorities and the mainstream media, which have a reputation for catering to chemical industry interests. When it comes to hormone-mimicking chemicals, the jury is always out no matter what the evidence, and the public left in the dark.

"All citizens ought to be given full information about properties of chemicals in the products they buy," stated Christian Schaible, Chemicals Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau, following the publishing of an independent study back in 2010 that revealed the presence of phthalates in common pencil cases.

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