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Xeno-estrogens affect foetal gonad development in sheep


August 4, 2000: Xeno-oestrogens, also called endocrine disrupters, have long been suspected of disrupting the embryonic development of mammalian sex organs. Dr. Helen Picton of Leeds University and Dr. Torres Sweeney of University College Dublin presented results of their research on the effects of two widely use xeno-oestrogen compounds on ovine gonad development to the Fertility 2000 Conference in Edinburgh on 1st August. The full results are available in the July 2000 edition of Endocrinology, available at http://endo.edoc.com/end/v141n7/2667-abs.html.

Pregnant ewes were fed, or received continuous intravenous infusions of, Diethystilbesterol (DES), a commonly used contraceptive compound, and octylphenol, an alkyphenol, commonly used in household detergents and industrial surfactants.

It was found that the female foetus of ewes receiving intravenous infusions showed an alteration in the overall population of early stage follicles. This "folliculogenesis" occurred in response to infusions of both DES and octylphenol. In the male foetus, there was a decrease in the size of the testes.

This research demonstrates a direct link between xeno-oestrogen exposure and foetal gonad development, which may have consequences in later life. It is known that the age of menopause is dropping and the incidence of very early menopause in women (from the age of 12 upwards) is increasing, while sperm production in men is declining.

On May 17th 2000 the Toronto Works Committee and the Toronto Economic Development and Parks Committee met jointly to approve the City's new Sewer Use By-Law, which reduces the permissible discharge levels of various industrial by-products including nonyphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates which are very similar compounds to octylphenol.

Further information can be found at the industry-funded Alkylphenols and Ethoxylates Research Council site, www.aperc.org.

Edward Teague, edward@sofsys.u-net.com





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