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Exposure To Dioxins Affects Male Reproductive System

re available for BPH and thus reduction of BPH by a toxic compound is not a desirable effect."

The study was based on data from the Air Force Health Study (AFHS). The AFHS is an epidemiologic study of more than 2,000 Air Force veterans who were responsible for spraying herbicides including Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. This group is called the Ranch Hand group because the spray program was called Operation Ranch Hand. Agent Orange was contaminated by a dioxin called 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD).

This study also involved a comparison group comprising veterans who served in Southeast Asia during the same time period, 1962-1971, but were not involved in the spraying program and thus were exposed to dioxins at levels equivalent to the general population.

The veterans were interviewed and underwent physical examinations and lab tests during six examination cycles. The first cycle was conducted in 1982, so the veterans were followed for more than 20 years.

"We found that the risk of developing BPH decreased with increasing exposure to dioxins in the comparison group," said Dr. Arnold Schecter, professor of environmental sciences at the UT School of Public Health Regional Campus at Dallas and a study author. "The risk of developing BPH was 24 percent lower in the group with the highest dioxin levels compared to the group with the lowest levels. In the Ranch Hand group, the risk of BPH tended to decrease with increased exposure to dioxins, but at extremely high exposure levels there was a tendency for the risk to increase."

In addition, the study shows that higher dioxin exposure is associated with decreased testosterone levels, Dr. Gupta said.

"It is known that lower testosterone levels are associated with decreased sexual function, decreased muscle mass and strength, infertility, increased fatigue, depression and reduced bone density," Dr. Gupta said. "However, we could not conclude from thi
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