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  Infertility Facts 

Infertility & Miscarriage Found to Increase After Exposure to Common Chemicals in the Environment 

 

by Dr. Wayne Sinclaire (M.D.)

New information provided on the causes of infertility and miscarriage. Includes essential information before beginning treatments for infertility or miscarriage. Topics include:

Smoking & infertility
Alcohol & infertility
Cosmetics & infertility
Coffee & infertility
Pesticides & infertility
Vehicle exhaust & infertility
Marijuana & infertility
Nutrasweet & infertility
Chlordane & infertility
Jobs at risk for infertility


Avoiding these circumstances will improve the odds of fertility and conception and decrease miscarriage risk by reducing "wear and tear" on the genes that control the reproductive processes. Evidence also included demonstrates the same chemicals causing infertility and miscarriage are being identified as increasing the risk for having a child with mental retardation, learning disabilities or behavior problems (such as A.D.D.). To acquire more detailed information on any particular subject, use the reference listing in the box to the right of the topic, visit your local library and request an inner library loan for the material. We will also answer questions submitted via e-mail to chem-tox@adelphia.net


Infertility - Miscarriage Research Summary  

Percentage of women with infertility differs with age. 

15-24 years old.......... 4.1%

25-34 years old.......... 13.1%

35-44 years old.......... 21.4%

 

National Center for Health Statistics

Redbook Magazine, August, 1993

The risk of miscarriage differs with age.

20-29 years old.......... 10% risk of miscarriage

45 or older ............... 50% risk of miscarriage

 

Chatelaine Magazine

November 1993, pg. 26

Male infertility increases over past 40 years.

One-half of 1% of men were functionally sterile in 1938. Today it has reached between 8-12% (an over 15-fold increase). "Functionally sterile" is defined as sperm counts below 20 million per milliliter of semen.

 

Dr. Cecil Jacobson

Reproductive Genetics Center

Vienna, Virginia

Miscarriage more common with low sperm counts. 

Women experiencing miscarriages typically had husbands with lower sperm counts and 48% visually abnormal sperm. Men who fathered normal pregnancies had 25% higher sperm counts and only 5% visually abnormal sperm.

 

Drs. Mirjam Furuhjelm and Birgit Jonson

Dept. of Obst. and Gyn., Sabbatsberg Hospital, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

International J. of Fertility, 7(1):17-21, 1962

 

40% of couple infertility is due to the male. Dr. Pat McShane

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Boston Massachusetts

Nationwide infertility rates.

A study by the National Center for Health Statistics estimated in 1988 that 8.4% of women 15-44 years had impaired ability to have children and about half of these couples eventually conceive. (These are overall average infertility figures - statistics will vary greatly depending on the age of the individual).

 

Dr. Howard Jones

New England Journal of Medicine

December 2, 1993 pg. 1710

Article entitled "The Infertile Couple"

 

 

Fertility treatments not very effective.

Expensive fertility treatments resulted in only a 6 percentage point improvement in achieving pregnancy over "infertile" couples who just "kept trying." In a study of 1,145 couples who had been diagnosed as infertile, only half of them were treated to help attain pregnancy. After a two to seven-year follow-up, pregnancies occurred in 41% of the treated couples and 35% of the untreated couples.

 

Dr. John A. Collins

Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology

McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

New England Journal of Medicine

November 17, 1983

More evidence fertility treatments not effective.

Another study of 2,000 couples found "roughly the same" small improvements in achieving pregnancy when comparing couples who sought infertility treatments and those who kept trying.

 

Dr. John A. Collins

Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology

McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

Sterility Fertility Journal, Fall of 1993

Infertility treatments are a $1 billion a year industry.

 

HealthFacts

Vol. 19(176), January, 1994

   

"20% of all cases where the male is the only contributing factor to infertility can be corrected by lifestyle." Dr. Wolfram Nolten

Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism 

University of Wisconsin

Lower sperm count increases risk of miscarriage. 

The odds of having a miscarriage or child with birth defects raises dramatically when fathers have lower sperm counts. When the fathers sperm counts were above 80 million/ml they had only a 1% birth defect rate compared to 6% for the general population. Miscarriages were also lower for the fathers with higher sperm counts - 6% compared to 12% for the general population.

 

Dr. J. K. Sherman

University of Arkansas study of 1000 children whose mothers were artificially inseminated with sperm from men whose sperm counts were above 80 million per milliliter.

Washington Star Newspaper

January 7, 1979

Smokers have lower sperm counts.

Smokers sperm counts are on average 13%-17% lower than nonsmokers.

Dr. Marilyn F. Vine

University of North Carolina

Fertility Sterility Journal 6(1):35-43, 1994

Stopping smoking increases sperm counts.

A study of three smokers who were followed for 5-15 months after stopping smoking reported that their sperm counts rose 50-800%, suggesting that toxic chemicals in the smoke are responsible and any reduction in sperm count is reversible.

 

 

(same article as above)

Smokers have more abnormal sperm.

"Male smokers have an increase in sperm abnormalities, thereby suggesting a mutagenic effect."

Quoted from the American J. of Epidemiology

140(10):921-928, 1994

The original study was reported in the journal Lancet, Volume 1:627-629, 1981

Cigarette consumption increases over 40 years.

"Cigarette consumption in the U.S. has increased 3-4 fold from 1940 to the beginning of the 1980's."

 

Dr. R. J. Ravalet

Population Develop. Reviews 
Vol. 16:213-240, 1990

Smokers face higher infertility.

38% of female non-smokers conceived in their 1st cycle of attempting pregnancy compared to 28% of smokers. Smokers were also 3-4 times more likely than non-smokers to have taken greater than a year to conceive.

 

Dr. D. Baird

National Institute of Environmental Health, NC

Journal of American Medical Association

Vol. 253:2979-83, 1985

Abnormally shaped sperm linked to decreased fertilization.

"A high number of abnormal sperm heads is associated with decreased fertilization. Some drugs such as sulphasalazine, used to treat inflammatory bowel disease can drastically reduce semen quality."

 

Dr. N. E. Skakkebaek

University Dept. of Growth and Reproduction

Lancet, June 11, 1994, pg. 1474

Pesticides suspected of causing infertility. 

Men experiencing infertility were found to be employed in agricultural/pesticide related jobs 10 times more often than a study group of men not experiencing infertility. See related articles showing pesticides can damage sperm and testicles.

 

Dr. Hein Strokum

Institute of Sterility Treatment, Vienna, Austria

American Journal of Industrial Medicine

Vol. 24:587-592, 1983

Common pesticide reduces sperm count.

Lower sperm counts and obvious damage to the quality of the sperm producing part of the testicles (called the seminiferous tubules), were found in test animals exposed to the pesticide chlordane.

Drs. Khawla J. Balash, Muthanna A. Al-Omar

Univ. of Baghdad, Biological Research Center

Scientific Research Council, Baghdad, Iraq

Bulletin of Environmental Contamination Tox.

Vol. 39:434-442, 1987

Infertility caused by pesticide found in the air of most homes built before March 1988.

Approximately 75% of U.S. homes are being being found to contain the pesticide chlordane in the breathable air. Of significant concern, over 5% of homes built before March of 1988 have been found to have air levels of the pesticide chlordane above the "safe" level of 5 micrograms per cubic meter. (In homes built before 1980 this is over 20%!). If you would like more detailed information on the chlordane problem and how infertility could be caused by living in one of these homes you can visit the chlordane web site at www.chem-tox.com/chlordane

 

Drs. Samuel S. Epstein, David Ozonoff 

School of Public Health, University of Illinois Medical Center, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA

Teratogenesis, Carcinogenesis, & Mutagenesis 

Vol. 7:527-540, 1987

  This entire web site is available in a neatly bound book format entitled "INFERTILITY FACTS." It provides the most complete research on environmental causes of male and female infertility available. It is the result of extensive research through university medical journals and provides practical changes that couples can do to increase fertility success and genetic quality. In addition to the information on the website, the book also includes a large amount of information on the increasing role being found in the male for causing infertility, miscarriage and child genetic problems. A very valuable tool for couples wishing to learn more about infertility and miscarriage. Cost is $7.00 plus $2.00 postage/handling in the U.S. and $3.00 postage/handling outside the U.S. It is available to order through our "secure" ordering form which insures the safety and privacy of your transaction. If you would like to use this form for quick ordering of Infertility Facts, please click on the link www.chem-tox.com/secure.  

Dangerous autoantibodies higher in pesticide exposed people.

The pesticide Chlorpyrifos (Dursban) was found to cause increases in autoimmune antibodies in people exposed to the pesticide. Autoantibodies are "renegade" immune system components which mistakenly attack the persons own self. (Please see other references in this report which link some cases of male and female infertility to autoimmune disorders in which the immune cells attack either the sperm or egg.

 

Drs. Jack D. Thrasher, Roberta Madison et. al.

Department of Health Science

California State University

Archives of Environmental Health

Vol. 48(2), 1993 March/April

Car exhaust decreases fertility. 

The common car exhaust compound benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) causes a significant reduction in fertility in test animals and fertility was further lowered when animals were exposed to both BaP and lead simultaneously. Results showed approximately a 33% reduction in ovarian weight and a "marked reduction in ovarian follicles."

 

Drs. P. Kristensen, Einar Eilertsen, et al.

National Institute of Occupation Health, Norway

Environmental Health Perspectives

Vol. 103:588-590, 1995

Coffee decreases fertility. 

A study of 1,909 women in Connecticut found the risk of not conceiving for 12 months (the usual definition of infertility), was 55% higher for women drinking 1 cup of coffee per day - 100% higher for women drinking 1 and one-half to 3 cups and 176% higher for women drinking more than 3 cups of coffee per day.

 

Hatah (1990) 

This study referenced by-

Drs. Larry Dulgosz, Michael B. Brachs

Yale University School of Medicine

Epidemiologic Reviews

Vol. 14, pg. 83, 1992

Coffee increases miscarriage risk. 

Coffee drinking before and during pregnancy was associated with over twice the risk of miscarriage when the mother consumed 2-3 cups of coffee per day.

 

Dr. Claire Infante-Rivard
Department of Occupation Health
Faculty of Medicine
McGill University, Quebec Canada
Journal of the American Medical Association
December 22, 1993
Coffee reduces blood to the brain.

Coffee drinking caused a 20-25% reduction in blood flow to the brains of healthy college volunteers 30 minutes after drinking 250 milligrams of caffeine (about the amount in a freshly brewed cup of coffee).

 

Dr. Roy J . Mathew

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

British Journal of Psychiatry, December, 1984

Spontaneous abortion after chemical exposure.

Spontaneous abortion increased over 4-fold for women once they became employed as microelectronics assembly workers. This job was found to subject women to a number of chemical solvents used in cleaning the electronic components including xylene, acetone, trichlorethylene, petroleum distillates and others, as well as solder vapors. Acetone is also used in removing nail polish.

 

Drs. G. Huel, D. Mergler, R. Bowler

Quebec Institute for Research in Occupational Health and Safety, University of Quebec, Canada

Occupational Medicine Clinic, University of California, San Francisco, California

British Journal of Industrial Medicine

Vol. 47:400-404, 1990

Cocaine and abnormal offspring. 

Cocaine exposure to males before conceiving is linked to abnormal development in offspring. The suspected cause is that concaine binds onto the sperm and therefore, finds its way into the egg at fertilization.

Dr. Ricardo Yazigi

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Washington University School of Medicine

Journal of the American Medical Association

Vol. 66(14), Oct. 9, 1991

MSG greatly reduces pregnancy success. 

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), a common flavor enhancer added in foods, was found to cause infertility problems in test animals. Male rats fed MSG before mating had less than a 50% success rate (5 of 13 animals), whereas male rats not fed MSG had over a 92% success rate (12 of 13 animals). Also the offspring of the MSG treated males showed shorter body length, reduced testes weights and evidence of overweight at 25 days. MSG is found in ACCENT, flavored potato chips, Doritos, Cheetos, meat seasonings and many packaged soups. 

 

Drs. William J. Pizzi, June E. Barnhart, et. al.

Department of Psychology

Northeaster Illinois University, Chicago, Illinois

Neurobehavioral Toxicology

Vol. 2:1-4, 1979

     

"20-25% of miscarriages are due to immune system problems." Dr. Salim Daya

The Fertility Clinic

Chedoke-McMaster Hospital, Ontario

Chatelaine Magazine, November, 1993

Miscarriages higher after chemical solvent exposure.

Two solvent chemicals exposed to working pregnant mothers making silicon chips had a 33% miscarriage rate where normally the miscarriage rate is 15%.

 

Time Magazine

October 22, pg. 27,1992

Male infertility and chemicals in drinking water.

Drinking water from Thames Water Supply in the United Kingdom was pinpointed as the cause of lower sperm counts and increases in abnormally shaped sperm. Common detergents were the chemical suspected as causing the reproductive damage.

 

Dr. Jean Ginsburg

London Royal Free Hospital

Lancet, Jan. 22

Anesthesia linked to birth defects.

Birth defects occurred nearly 3 times more often in a study of 621 Michigan nurse anesthetists (a nurse who helps with anesthesia preparation). A total of 16.4% of the nurses practicing anesthesia during pregnancy had children with birth defects compared to only 5.7% of nurses not practicing anesthesia.

 

Drs. Thomas H. Corbett and Richard Cornell 

Assistant Professor, University of Michigan

Anesthesiology, 41(4), 1974

Malfunctioning immune system suspected cause of infertility.

The rate of autoimmune antibodies (antibodies which mistakenly attack the person's own body) was 33% in women unable to deliver a baby to full term and 0% in a control group of women with successful pregnancies.

 

Dr. Eli Gea

In Vitro Fertilization Unit

Serlin Maternity Hospital

Tel Aviv, Israel

Fertility Sterility Journal, 62(4), October, 1994

Risks from medical fertility treatments.

A common treatment for infertility is administration of follicle stimulating hormones. Regarding this treatment researchers stated, "Persistent stimulation of the ovary by gonadotropins may have a direct carcinogenic effect or an indirect effect attributable to raised concentration of estrogens."

 

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology,

Radbond University, Netherlands

Lancet, April 17, 1993, pg. 987

Alcohol reduces fertilization success.

A large 50% reduction in conception was found in experiments of test animals given "intoxicating" doses of alcohol 24 hours prior to mating.

 

Dr. Theodore J. Cicero

Washington University School of Medicine

Science News, Vol. 146

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) success rates depend on the woman's age:

under 35 years....... 45-50% success

35-40 years............ 28-35% success

age 41..................... 20% success

42 and older........... 3% success

The cost of IVF can exceed $8,000- (IVF is fertilization taking place in a "test tube" after removal of a woman's egg).

 

Dr. Rosenwaks

New York Hospital

Cornell Medical Center

Redbook Magazine, August, 1993

Studies of painters found they are more likely to father children with defects of the central nervous system. 

 

Dr. Andrew Olshan

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

U.S. News & World Report, December 14, 1992

Dental Workers have more than twice the normal number of problems with pregnancy

More spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and congential defects occurred in dentists and dental assistants compared with the control group (24% compared to 11%, respectively), whereas five out of six malformations were spina bifida.

Drs. Birgitte Blatter, Marjolihn van der Star,
Nel Roeleveld

Department of Medical Informatics and Epidemiology, University of Nijmegen, Netherlands

International Archives of Occupational & Environmental Health
Vol. 59:551-557, 1987

Marijuana use at "moderate" levels was found to stop ovulation in monkeys for 103 to 135 days. 

Researchers also stated that the THC in marijuana may be directly toxic to the developing egg. Dr. Carol Smith, the main researcher, stated, "There are nervous pathways into the hypothalamus (a gland that regulates the reproductive cycle) that are being suppressed." 

Dr. Smith also stressed that women who are attempting to conceive or who are pregnant should not use marijuana. 

Dr. Carol Grace Smith

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.

Ricardo Asch, University of Texas, Austin

Science, March 25, 1983

Also reported in Science News, March 26, 1983

 

     

Sperm damage was about 50% higher in test animals exposed to the anesthesia enflurane. Anesthesia levels given to the animals was equal to the level that could be given to humans. Dr. Paul C. Land and E. L. Owen

Department of Anesthesia, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois

Anesthesiology, 54:53-56, 1981

 

 

Quotes from the Harvard Health Letter:

 

"8-10% of sperm from healthy men are abnormal, some carry the wrong chromosome while others have bits and pieces of genetic material out of place."

"Because a child conceived by intoxicated parents was thought to be unhealthy, the ancient cities of Carthage and Sparta had laws prohibiting the use of alcohol by newlyweds."

"The earliest evidence of a link between job occupation and reproductive problems came out in 1860 when a French scientist noted that wives of lead workers were less likely to become pregnant, and if they did were more prone to miscarrying."

"A survey of animal data indicates that paternal (father) exposure to environmental toxins - ranging from recreation drugs to industrial chemicals - apparently contribute to problems ranging from fetal loss and stillbirth to diminished aptitude for learning to perform tasks such as running a maze."

 

 

Harvard Health Letter

October, 1992

Other Points from the Harvard Health Letter:

Men who work in aircraft industry or handle paints or chemical solvents have higher risk of producing children with brain tumors.

"Father exposure to paints linked to childhood Leukemias."

Firemen appear to produce an unusually high number of abnormal sperm and be less fertile than other males. (This is believed to be due to the toxic smoke which results when carpets, furniture and paints are burned - of which today are made from synthetic/plastic based compounds).

 

 

(page 6 of above reference)

 

Miscarriages warn of genetic damage. 

90% of fetuses with malformations are spontaneously aborted during early pregnancy. 60% of first trimester spontaneous abortions have chromosome abnormalities.

 

Dr. Frank M. Sullivan

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

University of London

Environmental Health Perspectives

101(Suppl.2):13-18, 1993

Little is known on the reproductive dangers of chemicals.

Regarding chemicals in the workplace, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Economic Community (EEC) prepared lists of several thousand chemicals produced in amounts of more than 1000 tons per year and many produced at 10,000 tons/year. "Toxicological data of any type exist for a few hundred and reproductive toxicology data exist for probably 100."

 

Dr. Frank M. Sullivan

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

University of London

Environmental Health Perspectives

101(Suppl.2):13-18, 1993

Miscarriage increases after exposure to chemical solvents. 

The major risk chemicals were:

perchlorethylene (dry cleaning)..... 4.7 times greater risk

trichloroethylene (dry cleaning)..... 3.1 times greater risk

paint thinners ............................... 2.1 times greater risk

paint strippers ............................... 2.1 times greater risk

glycol ethers (found in paints)........ 2.9 times greater risk

Dr. Gayle C. Windham, Ph.D.

Dr. Dennis Shusterman, MD, MPH

School of Public Health

University of California, Berkely

American Journal of Industrial Medicine

Vol. 20:241-259, 1991

     

Further evidence chemicals damage reproduction.

Quotes from Dr. Baranski, Institute of Occupation Medicine, Denmark:

 

"Risk of infertility increased in females who reported exposures to textile dyes, dry cleaning chemicals, noise, lead, mercury and cadmium."

 

"There was a significant risk of increased time to conception among women exposed to anti-rust agents, welding, plastic manufacturing, lead, mercury, cadmium, or anesthetic agents."

 

"There was also an increased risk of delay to conception following male exposure to textile dyes, plastic manufacturing, and welding. Those who unpacked or handled antibiotics had a significant association with delayed pregnancy of at least 12 months."

 

Dr. Boguslaw Baranski

Institute of Occupational Medicine, Copenhagen, Denmark

Conference on the Impact of the Environment and Reproductive Health held in Denmark, September 4, 1991

Environmental Health Perspectives

Vol. 101(suppl 2), pg. 85, 1993

Biological reasons for infertility: 

Tubal Factors.............................. 36%

Ovulatory Disorders ..................... 33%

Endometriosis.......................... ..... 6%

No known Cause......................... 40%

 

Dr. David Lindsay

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Lancet, June 18, 1994

Chromosome abnormalities occur in 26% of human oocytes (eggs) and 10% of sperm.

 

(above reference)
"Recurrent miscarriage is associated with parental chromosome abnormalities, antiphospholipid antibodies and uterine cavity abnormalities. Premature ovarian failure (inability of ovaries to produce eggs) may be genetically determined or associated with autoimmune disease."

 

Dr. David Lindsay

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Lancet, June 18, 1994

Stillbirth, preterm delivery and small birth weight were higher in certain jobs with chemical exposures in a study of 2,096 mothers and 3,170 fathers. 

Women working in rubber, plastics or synthetics industry had an 80% greater chance of stillbirth. Father employment in the textile industry (chemical dyes, plastics, formaldehyde, etc.) resulted in their wives having a 90% greater risk of stillbirth. Exposure of the father to the chemicals polyvinyl alcohol and benzene (found in gasoline, cleaning solvents, adhesives and oil based paints) was associated with a 50% increase in preterm delivery. 

 

Study funded by the March of Dimes

Drs. David A. Savitz, Elizabeth A. Whelan and Robert C. Kleckner

School of Public Health, University of NC

American Journal of Epidemiology

Vol. 129(6):1201-1218, 1989

Chemicals found to mimic human estrogens.

A proper balance of natural estrogens in the body is essential for reproductive success. However, reports have been suggesting that environmental estrogens (chemicals which "mimic" our natural estrogens) are creating infertility problems by confusing the body's estrogen receptors. Some pesticides have already been shown to be environmental estrogens. New research shows that more chemicals are being found to be environmental estrogens including the food additives butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) Other chemicals found to be somewhat estrogenic include, PVC plastics.

Dr. Susan Jobling, Tracey Reynolds, Roger White, Malcolm G. Parker, and John Sumpter

Department of Biology and Biochemistry

Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology

Brunel University, London

Environmental Health Perspectives

Vol. 103:582-587, 1995

  


Male and Female Infertility Increasing Past 50 Years
Evidence Chlordane Could Be Part of the Problem

Several biological problems affecting the male testicles have been occurring with greater frequency over the past 50 years. The summary of the problem, which appeared in the 1993 journal, Environmental Health Perspectives(13), discussed the observed rise in testicular cancer and the medical conditions hypospadias and cryptorchidism, as well as the apparent declining sperm count among the overall male population. Hypospadias is when the testicles do not descend and cryptorchidism is where the opening to the penis appears on the underside of the penis.

According to the researchers at the Statistical Research Unit, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, cancer of the male testicles has increased over3 fold from 1940 to 1980. The frequency of hypospadias (the opening of the penis on the underside) in England has doubled from 0.15% in 1964 to 0.36% in 1983. Similar increases were also reported from Sweden and Hungary. Recent British data also detected a near doubling of cryptorchidism. This problem has risen from 1.6% of the boys born in the 1950's to 2.9% born in the late 1970's.

The researchers also performed a detailed survey of the international literature on sperm and semen levels published between 1930 and 1991. Compiling information from over 61 papers and 14,947 males, indicated a significant decline in average sperm density form 113 million per milliliter in 1940 to 66 million per milliliter in 1990. The mean semen volume also declined from 3.40 milliliters to 2.75 milliliters (a nearly 20% drop). This means that the total sperm count decreased even more than that expressed by sperm density.

These figures show that men are producing only about half as much sperm per ejaculation today as they did in the 1940's. This should generate concern as research has shown that as sperm count decreases, there is an increase in the risk of birth defects, miscarriages and general problems with the child. Therefore, these figures suggest that we should be observing a greater number of health and neurological problems among our children due to the connection between lower sperm count and lower sperm quality resulting from exposure of the male population to widespread environmental chemicals.

In conclusion the researchers stated,

"Recent data clearly indicate that the semen quality has markedly decreased during the period 1938-1990, and concomitantly the incidence of some genitourinary abnormalities including hypospadias, maldescent, and cancer has increased. Such a remarkable increment in the occurrence of gonadal abnormalities over a relatively short period of time is more likely to be due to environmental rather than genetic factors. Generally, it is believed that pollution, smoking, alcohol, and sexually transmitted diseases play a role."

Because of the widespread contamination of chlordane in American homes (the chemical emits vapors for decades after treatment) and its link with causing abnormalities in blood and childhood blood and brain cancer, Dr. David Ozonoff, of the Boston School of Public Health, stated there is an "urgent need for legislation creating a national program for monitoring homes known to have been treated to detect persistent contamination with these highly dangerous pesticides."

This persistent exposure to the U.S. population raises serious concerns regarding the effects of the chemical upon male and female fertility. Therefore, it is important to look at the research that addresses this issue.

Male Infertility Increases After Chlordane Exposure in Test Animals

In the following chlordane study, researchers divided mice into three groups of ten mice each. Two groups were subjected to either a low or higher level of chlordane and the third group was used as a control group not exposed to any chlordane. After 30 days of daily exposure, the animals were sacrificed and the testicles were examined. The researchers stated that the chlordane exposed groups showed obvious changes to the part of the testicles where sperm development occurs (called the seminiferous tubules). Damaged tubules were present in 19% of the lower chlordane exposed animals- 31% of the higher chlordane exposed animals and only 3% in the animals not exposed to chlordane. There was also a reduction in the seminiferous tubule diameter in the higher chlordane exposed group.

This research was conducted by Dr. K. J. Balash and colleagues at the Biological Research Center, Scientific Research Council, Baghdad, Iraq (13).

How Chlordane Causes Infertility in Female Test Animals

There are several studies showing female infertility in test animals increases after exposure to the pesticide chlordane. In the study conducted by Wellcome Research Laboratories, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, scientists exposed over 100 mice to low levels of chlordane (25 mg/kg)once a week for three weeks before mating and compared their fertility success with over 100 mice not exposed to chlordane before mating. The experiment was performed three different times to see if the results were consistent. Each time the results were the same - that female animals exposed to chlordane conceived far less often than females who were not exposed to chlordane.

In the first experiment, the results showed 27% of mice exposed to only corn oil conceived while only 3% of mice exposed to chlordane mixed with corn oil conceived.

In the second experiment, the results showed 29% of the mice exposed to only corn oil conceived while 19% of mice exposed to chlordane mixed with corn oil conceived.

In the third experiment, the results showed 50% of the mice exposed to only corn oil conceived, while 20% of mice exposed to chlordane mixed with corn oil conceived.

To help explain why the decreases in fertilization was being observed, the scientists found that chlordane exposure was causing excessive metabolism in the liver of important estrogen compounds necessary for reproduction. In other words, the chlordane was actually causing the liver to remove estrogen at too rapid a rate, thereby decreasing its level in the female body to unusually low levels. Not only was fertility success lower, but it was found that the uterine weight of the chlordane exposed animals was also up to 34% lower. With approximately 7% of U.S. homes being tested showing unsafe levels of chlordane, it would certainly be of interest to determine the air chlordane levels of homes where couples were having trouble conceiving.

This study was conducted by R.M. Welch and colleagues at the Wellcome Research Laboratories, Reseach Triangle Park, North Carolina published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 19:234-246 (1971).

How To Test Your Home For Chlordane - click here

For more information on the chlordane problem - click here


Alcohol & Marijuana Together Cause Drastic Reductions in Fertility

Women who combine the use of alcohol and marijuana may greatly reduce their chance of conceiving. In a study at the Research Institute on Alcoholism, Buffalo, New York, Dr. Ernest L. Abel tested the hypothesis that alcohol in combination with marijuana would decrease fertility far more than if either drug was used alone. Using both rats and mice, Dr. Abel exposed 85 of the animals to either alcohol or marijuana, or alcohol plus marijuana, along with a control group that was not exposed. Exposure levels of the drug were determined from previous research as the maximum level that did not cause any reproductive problems.

The results showed that neither alcohol nor marijuana used alone caused any significant increases in resorptions or fetal deaths, however, when alcohol and marijuana were used in combination, there was a 73% fetomortality (offspring deaths) in the rats and 100% fetomortality in the mice.

Dr. Ernest L. Abel
Research Institute on Alcoholism, Buffalo, New York
Teratology 31:35-40 (1985)


MSG Increases Odds of Infertility and Obesity - Shorter Growth

To investigate the possibility of long term effects from MSG ingestion, 38 healthy animals were tested from birth to nine months of age. Twenty animals received injections of MSG daily from 1 to 10 days after birth, 18 control animals received no MSG.

The results showed MSG treated animals appeared stunted in growth and still remained shorter than controls on day 30. Of significant interest, animals treated with MSG continued to gain weight on unrestricted diets beyond the age of 5 months. Average weights of the 5 month old animals were 37 grams for the non-MSG treated and 57 grams for the MSG treated animals. Contrary to expectation, the "obese" MSG treated animals actually consumed less food than their thinner control counterparts, implying the overweight was due to damage to the brain area responsible for controlling body weight. Mean per capita food consumption over the daily 4 hour measuring period was 2.5 grams for the controls and 1.7 grams for the MSG treated animals.

Also noted at 5 months, the MSG animals were lethargic as adults and lacked the sleekness of body coat seen in the controls. The reproductive capacity of the MSG females was also reduced in that they repeatedly failed to conceive in spite of adequate exposure from 5 to 9 months of age.

In summary, Dr. Olney writes,

"These observations, linking MSG treatment of the neonatal mouse with a syndrome of manifestations, including skeletal stunting, marked adiposity, and sterility of the female, coupled with histopathological findings in several organs associated with endocrine function, suggest a complex endocrine disturbance. In view of the additional finding of lesions in regions of the brain thought to function as neuroendocrine regulatory centers, a unitary hypothesis might be constructed relating all or most of the findings to the neonatal disruptions of neuronal development in these centers.... The assumption that MSG is an entirely innocuous substance for human consumption has been questioned recently in view of its role in the Chinese Restaurant syndrome. The finding that neuronal necrosis can be induced in the immature mouse brain by 0.5 mg/kg of MSG raises the more specific question whether there is any risk to the developing human nervous system by maternal use of MSG during pregnancy. The primate placenta maintains amino acids in consistently higher concentrations in the fetal circulation than those found in the maternal circulation, the ratio of glutamic acid being grater than 2:1. In fact, when high doses of phenylalanine were given to a pregnant rhesus monkey, the ratio of mother to fetus for this amino acid remained unchanged so that exceedingly high fetal blood levels resulted. The possibility that brain lesions could occur in the developing primate embryo in response to increased glutamic acid concentrations in the maternal circulation, therefore, warrants investigation."

Dr. John W. Olney
Department of Psychiatry
Washington University School Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
SCIENCE 164:719-721 (1969) 

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