The epidemiologic evidence linking prenatal and postnatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals with male reproductive disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis

More than 20 years ago, it was hypothesised that exposure to prenatal and early postnatal environmental xenobiotics with the potential to disrupt endogenous hormone signalling might be on the causal path to cryptorchidism, hypospadias, low sperm count and testicular cancer. Several consensus statements and narrative reviews in recent years have divided the scientific community and have elicited a call for systematic transparent reviews. The authors aimed to fill this gap in knowledge in the field of male reproductive disorders. The aim of this study was to systematically synthesise published data on the risk of cryptorchidism, hypospadias, low sperm counts and testicular cancer following in utero or infant exposure to chemicals that have been included on the European Commission’s list of Category 1 endocrine disrupting chemicals defined as having documented adverse effects due to endocrine disruption in at least one intact organism. A systematic literature search for original peer reviewed papers was performed in the databases PubMed and Embase to identify epidemiological studies reporting associations between the outcomes of interest and exposures documented by biochemical analyses of biospecimens including maternal blood or urine, placenta or fat tissue as well as amnion fluid, cord blood or breast milk; this was followed by meta-analysis of quantitative data. The literature search resulted in 1314 references among which 33 papers (28 study populations) fulfilling the eligibility criteria were identified. These provided 85 risk estimates of links between persistent organic pollutants and rapidly metabolised compounds (phthalates and Bisphenol A) and male reproductive disorders. The overall odds ratio (OR) across all exposures and outcomes was 1.11 (95% CI 0.91-1.35). When assessing four specific chemical subgroups with sufficient data for meta-analysis for all outcomes, the authors found that exposure to one of the four compounds, p,p’-DDE, was related to an elevated risk: OR 1.35 (95% CI 1.04-1.74). The data did not indicate that this increased risk was driven by any specific disorder. The current epidemiological evidence is compatible with a small increased risk of male reproductive disorders following prenatal and postnatal exposure to some persistent environmental chemicals classified as endocrine disruptors but the evidence is limited. Future epidemiological studies may change the weight of the evidence in either direction. No evidence of distortion due to publication bias was found, but exposure-response relationships are not evident. There are insufficient data on rapidly metabolised endocrine disruptors and on specific exposure-outcome relations. A particular data gap is evident with respect to delayed effects on semen quality and testicular cancer. Although high quality epidemiological studies are still sparse, future systematic and transparent reviews may provide pieces of evidence contributing to the narrative and weight of the evidence assessments in the field.

Authors: Bonde JP, Flachs EM, Rimborg S, Glazer CH, Giwercman A, Ramlau-Hansen CH, Hougaard KS, Høyer BB, Hærvig KK, Petersen SB, Rylander L, Specht IO, Toft G, Bräuner EV. ;Full Source: Human Reproductive Update. 2016 Sep 21. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Epub ahead of print] ;[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]