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Exposure to dioxins influences male reproductive system, study of Vietnam veterans concludes

one density," Dr. Gupta said. "However, we could not conclude from this study that dioxin exposure did lead to any of these adverse affects in the veterans in the study."

The study points out the necessity to conduct additional environmental studies of the impact of dioxins and other toxins on the male reproductive system. Previous research was largely based on animal models, Dr. Gupta said, noting that the urgency of further research is underlined by a rise in disorders of the male reproductive tract over the past several decades.

These include a decrease in sperm production by almost 50 percent, a three- to four-fold increase in testicular cancer, an increase in the incidence of cryptorchidism (undescended testes, a condition where the testes are not in their normal location in the scrotum) and hypospadias (abnormality of the urethra).

The reason for this increase is not known, but it is thought that these disorders might be caused by environmental chemicals that are estrogenic and have endocrine-disrupting effects, Dr. Gupta said.

Dioxins are among the most toxic substances known and are thought to be partially responsible for this increase in male reproductive tract disorders. They are formed as byproducts of processes such as incineration, smelting, paper and pulp manufacturing and pesticide and herbicide production.

Humans are exposed to these chemicals primarily through consumption of animal fat and dairy products. Babies are exposed to the highest levels of dioxins through breast milk. Dioxins are eliminated extremely slowly from the body and they tend to stay in the body for several years to several decades after exposure.


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Source:UT Southwestern Medical Center


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