Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and male reproductive health: a review

EDCs among other health problems generate reproductive disorders in males, such as decreases in sperm count and quality, increases in testicular germ cell numbers, prostate and breast cancers, cryptorchidism and hypospadias, impaired fertility, and infertility.

2017 Abstracts

“The group of known EDCs is extremely heterogeneous and includes different groups of chemicals such as steroids (ethinyl estradiol, 17β-estradiol, estrone, mestranol and diethylstilbenstrol),…”

Testicular dysgenesis syndrome

“Cryptorchidism, hypospadias, poor semen quality, and testicular germ-cell cancers are defined as the testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS). They propose that the aetiology of TDS lies in the diminished androgen action in fetal developmental periods and has a negative impact on the proper functioning of Sertoli cells (the cells supporting germ cells) and Lydig cells (where androgen synthesis occurs). This hypothesis proposes a strong association between environmental exposures (e.g., to phthalates, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and non-resistant pesticides) and development of TDS. Identifying environmental causes of TDS in humans is difficult because developing fetal tissues are inaccessible for examination. Thus, the majority of mechanistic evidence linking EDCs to TDS comes from animal experiments.”

Cryptorchidism and hypospadias

Several studies have shown that sons of mothers treated with diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy are at increased risk of cryptorchidism and hypospadias“.

Decreasing sperm counts and quality

” Several studies have shown that sons of mothers treated with DES during pregnancy are at increased risk of decreased sperm count.”

Testicular cancer

“During recent decades, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of testicular cancer, albeit with clear racial and geographical differences (the highest incidence is among white men in northern Europe) suggesting that both genetic and environmental factors are important in the development of testicular cancer. The main risk factor for testicular cancer is cryptorchidism, followed by hypospadias. Testicular cancer is most common among young men between the ages of 15–34 years. The origins of testicular cancer are elusive; however, many investigators are exploring the possibility that fetal and early-life EDCs exposures can disrupt the critical hormonal balance during development, and in turn contribute to the formation of testicular cancer later in life. It was found that men who have some form of gonadal dysgenesis are more likely to develop testicular cancer in conjunction with other male reproductive abnormalities such as hypospadias and cryptorchidism. The mechanisms behind the development of testicular cancer are still unknown, but both environmental and lifestyle factors have been associated with its development.”



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