Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
REVIEW

Negative impact of endocrine-disrupting compounds on human reproductive health

Damjan Balabanič A B E , Marjan Rupnik C and Aleksandra Krivograd Klemenčič D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Pulp and Paper Institute, Bogišićeva ulica 8, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.

B University of Nova Gorica, Vipavska 13, SI-5000 Nova Gorica, Slovenia.

C Institute of Physiology, Medical Faculty, University of Maribor, Slomškov trg 15, SI-2000 Maribor, Slovenia.

D Department of Sanitary Engineering, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Zdravstvena pot 5, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.

E Corresponding author. Email: damjan.balabanic@gmail.com

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 23(3) 403-416 https://doi.org/10.1071/RD09300
Submitted: 10 September 2009  Accepted: 9 September 2010   Published: 3 February 2011

Abstract

There is increasing concern about chemical pollutants that are able to mimic hormones, the so-called endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), because of their structural similarity to endogenous hormones, their ability to interact with hormone transport proteins or because of their potential to disrupt hormone metabolic pathways. Thus, the effects of endogenous hormones can be mimicked or, in some cases, completely blocked. A substantial number of environmental pollutants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phthalates, bisphenol A, pesticides, alkylphenols and heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury), have been shown to disrupt endocrine function. These compounds can cause reproductive problems by decreasing sperm count and quality, increasing the number of testicular germ cells and causing male breast cancer, cryptorchidism, hypospadias, miscarriages, endometriosis, impaired fertility, irregularities of the menstrual cycle, and infertility. Although EDCs may be released into the environment in different ways, the main sources is industrial waste water. The present paper critically reviews the current knowledge of the impact of EDCs on reproductive disorders in humans.

Additional keywords: environment, reproductive problems, waste water.


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