Endometriosis, PCB’s and Infertility: the link becomes even more compelling

For the last several years, I have been trying to make my patients and colleagues more aware of the how both the rising rates of infertility and endometriosis may be related to environmental causes. Here is an excerpt from my book PERFECT HORMONE BALANCE FOR FERTILITY (p. 29[G1] ):

An estimated 5 million women in the United States have endometriosis—a painful condition in which tissue from the endometrium travels to the ovary, fallopian tubes, and other surfaces in the pelvis. It also contributes to infertility. Endometriosis researchers have been looking for links between environmental BioMutagens and this condition. The strongest associations have been found with dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s)—both toxic by-products of manufacturing and waste disposal plants. Studies show that women exposed to these chemicals have a three- to fourfold increased risk of developing endometriosis. Typically exposure occurs through contaminated air and water. This may be the strongest direct link between BioMutagens and a condition known to reduce fertility.

Since the time that my co-author and I published that, even more data has come out supporting this relationship. In a recently published study[G2] , they found concentrations of PCB’s frequently found in the bloodstream of women in the USA were associated with a reduced pregnancy rate in women that were going through IVF. In fact, these women actually had about ½ the pregnancy rate following embryo transfer suggesting that this hormone disrupting chemical may interfere with implantation.

In my opinion, the data is compelling enough. Since there are steps that we can all take to reduce our exposure to these harmful chemicals; it seems reasonable to share this information with couples trying to conceive so that they can make healthier choices like:

  • Reducing consumption of animal fats where these chemical tend to accumulate
  • Avoid fish/shellfish caught in waters most commonly associated with contamination
  • Minimize your exposure to food and water packaged in plastics with the #3, #6 and #7 and instead seek out glass, metal or plastics labeled #1, #2, #4 and #5
  • Consider installing a reverse osmosis water filter in your home for drinking/cooking purposes
  • Check out my book for more helpful diet/lifestyle tips to reduce your toxin exposure

2 thoughts on “Endometriosis, PCB’s and Infertility: the link becomes even more compelling

  1. My daughter, who is 20 years old has Lynch Syndrome, as does my son. Therefore, she is 82% likely to suffer from endometrial or ovarian or colon cancer. Also, her offspring will have a 50% chance of having Lynch Syndrome. They recommend women with this genetic disorder to have their female organs removed as soon as possible. I am wondering if we should freeze her eggs?

    1. Dear Lori,
      The field of oncofertility–the impact of cancer treatment/prevention upon fertility–is a very dynamic and emerging field. I would urge your daughter to get several formal opinions before making a decision. There is not definitive answers since much of the available research is subject to interpretation of the existing studies. There is some data for instance that the use of birth control pills can help suppress the risk of uterine and endometrial cancer for women at high risk. In fact, the data even suggests that it may also offer some protection against colon cancer as well. The bottom line is that there is not a need to rush into a decision at this point but instead your daughter should continue to follow the recommended cancer screening while she gathers information. Most important, your daughter should include the imput of board certified REPRODUCTIVE ENDOCRINOLOGISTS in her data gathering not reply simply upon the cancer specialists or geneticists. I do hope that you find this to be reassuring for that is how it is intended.
      Best thoughts,
      ~Robert

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