And why might this be important? Unless you are a Spanish farmer raising swine, or unless you live in Spain and are in the market for pork or ham, it should not matter. But is you work in the fertility field or are trying to get pregnant, it may be an issue. The concern over what is going on with Spanish pigs, is really about why the pigs were having trouble reproducing. It turns out that back in 2010, there was a marked drop in fertility in pig farms across difference regions of Spain. Investigators at first had trouble figuring our where there problem was. The one common thread in each of these farms was that all of the farms used plastic bags from the same manufacturer to collect semen for insemination. A researcher at the University of Zarazoga, Cristina Nerín, then analyzed the bags and found that an ingredient in the plastic bags was the cause of infertile Spanish pigs. The scary part is that this chemical (and similar compounds) are found in plastic products that are used to package foods and beverages we eat every day. The good news is that the pigs of Spain and happily producing lots of piglets again. However, there is likely more to come on this topic in reproductive medicine and potentially in other areas of medicine as well.
In our countries' race for energy independence, an new technique has been developed called fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in which high pressure fluid is injected into rock in order to extract fossil fuels such as natural gas. Besides water and sand, a number of other chemicals are injected into the rock, including some chemicals called endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disrupters can interfere with how the hormones in the body work and a number of these are found in the environment. A recent study the journal Endocrinology, suggests these endocrine disruptors may be found in higher doses in areas close to fracking sites, raising public concern about when this might be a public health hazard. While fracking may result in higher levels of these endocrine disruptors in the environment, it is not clear whether these levels are high enough to be concern to reproductive health issues such as affecting fertility or birth defect rates.
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus (endometrium) grows in places it normally does not belong. It is a common cause of pelvic pain and infertility, a condition that most Reproductive Medicine specialists see often. A recent paper suggests that women with endometriosis have much higher levels of certain pesticides in their bodies. Does that mean that these organochlorine pesticides cause endometriosis? Not necessarily but it does suggest that there may be environmental factors that lead to endometriosis. Click here for the original article.