Toxic Link to Endo
ENDOMETRIOSIS and the TOXIC LINK
Endometriosis is an endocrine and immune disease that affects an estimated 89 million women and girls around the world, regardless of ethnic or social origin. The incidence of allergies, asthma, and chemical sensitivities in women with endometriosis is higher than in the general population. Women with endometriosis are also at higher risk for autoimmune diseases and certain types of cancers.
The connection with chemical toxins
Dioxin is a toxic byproduct of industrial and consumer processes that involve chlorine or incineration of chlorine-containing substances, such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as “vinyl”) plastics. The main sources of dioxins are medical waste incineration, municipal waste incineration, chemical and plastic manufacturing, some pesticides, and pulp and paper bleaching. PVC disposable medical devices, such as IV bags and tubing, are a major concern because they become medical waste, which is often incinerated. Dioxins formed during incineration are released into the air and travel via air currents, contaminating fields and crops. Cattle and other livestock eat the crops and the dioxin enters their tissue. Humans then eat the contaminated animal products.
In the early 1990s, the Endometriosis Association found that 79% of a group of monkeys developed endometriosis after exposure to dioxin in their food during a research study over ten years earlier. The severity of endometriosis found in the monkeys was directly related to the amount of TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin – the most toxic dioxin) to which they had been exposed . Monkeys that were fed dioxin in amounts as small as five parts per trillion developed endometriosis. In addition, the dioxin-exposed monkeys showed immune abnormalities similar to those observed in women with endometriosis .
As explained in books including Our Stolen Future, Dying from Dioxin, and The Endometriosis Sourcebook, scientists have come to the realization that certain chemical compounds, such as dioxin, have profound immunological and reproductive impacts at exposures far below the level known to cause cancer. These chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors and can mimic hormones and interfere with many physiological processes . Scientists are still researching the mechanisms that are used, but they already know that these man-made chemicals persist in the body for years. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are a group of dioxin-like chemicals that were used in industry until they were banned in the 1970s. Some PCBs persist in the environment for more than one hundred years. According to Endometriosis Association research, certain PCBs appear to be linked with TCDD in endometriosis in the monkeys. The severity of endometriosis correlated with the blood levels of a particular PCB .
Based on animal studies and observation of wildlife, impaired fertility is a result of exposure to endocrine disruptors. Infertility affects approximately 40% of women with endometriosis. The Endometriosis Association’s research registry provides data showing that endometriosis is starting at a younger age and is more severe than in the past. Could this be the result of a rising “body burden” level of dioxins and other endocrine disruptors?
It is imperative that we stop dioxin exposure now. These toxins are affecting our health and are threatening the health of future generations. Let’s join together and take action now! For more information on what you can do, contact the Environmental Coordinator at support@EndometriosisAssn.org.