Pesticides may impact endometriosis risk

November 21, 2013

Exposure to two organochlorine pesticides may increase risk of endometriosis, according to a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

 

Exposure to two organochlorine pesticides may increase risk of endometriosis, according to a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

For the analysis, researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center used data from the Women’s Risk of Endometriosis study, a population-based case-control in  women aged 18 to 49 from a large western Washington State health care system. Pesticide levels were measured in sera from 248 women with surgically confirmed endometriosis diagnosed between 1996 and 2001 and from 538 population-based controls. Unconditional logistic regression was performed, with adjustment for age, reference date year, serum lipids, education, race/ethnicity, smoking, and alcohol intake. Past studies of organochloride pesticides have indicated estrogenic properties and the potential to increase the risk of estrogen-driven conditions such as endometriosis.

A positive association was seen between mirex and β-hexachlorocyclohexane  (HCH) serum concentrations and increased risk of endometriosis. For β-HCH, the serum levels in the third versus lowest quartile were estimated odds ratios (OR) 1.7; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0, 2.8, and the highest vs. lowest quartile was OR 1.3; 95% CI: 0.8, 2.4). Mirex serum levels for highest vs. lowest category were OR 1.5; 95% CI 1.0, 2.2). The association between β-HCH serum concentrations and endometriosis was strongest when analysis was restricted to cases with ovarian endometriosis (third vs. lowest quartile, OR 2.5; 95% CI: 1.5, 5.2; highest vs. lowest quartile, OR 2.5; 95% CI: 1.1, 5.3).

The scientists concluded that the presence of β-HCH and mirex in serum samples could be positively associated with endometriosis. Neither of the pesticides has been used in recent years, but both are environmentally persistent, with the potential to impact women long past their initial application.

 

 

To get weekly advice for today's Ob/Gyn, subscribe to the Contemporary Ob/Gyn Special Delivery.