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February 5, 2009

Pollutants in water inhibit male hormones, causing infertility in fish – and potentially, in humans.


A fish tale that could apply to men. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Pollutants that block male hormones are emasculating fish, and may affect men too. This according to environmental toxicologist Susan Jobling of Brunel University in England. She and her colleagues have linked testosterone-blocking chemicals in British waters to infertility and even partial sex changes in male fish.

SUSAN JOBLING (Brunel University):
We haven’t actually identified the chemicals themselves. So it’s going to be a bit of a scientific detective story to try and find out what these chemicals are.

Candidates include pesticides, cosmetics, and prescription drugs. And unlike estrogen-like pollutants, which were already known to feminize fish, these so-called anti-androgens also damage human testicular tissue in the lab. Once scientists identify the chemicals, they’ll want to find out if they’re impacting men’s health. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.