Times of India
20 January 2009
A group of testosterone blocking chemicals is finding its way into rivers that can erode virility and feminise males.
New research has linked water pollution to the rising incidence of male infertility. The study, by Brunel University, the universities of Exeter and Reading and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology identified a new group of chemicals that act as “Anti–androgens”.
These compounds inhibit the function of the male hormone, testosterone, reducing male fertility. Some of these are contained in drugs, including cancer treatments, pharmaceutical treatments and pesticides used in agriculture.
The research suggests that when they get into the water system, these chemicals may play a pivotal role in causing feminising effects in male fish.
Earlier research by Brunel and Exeter universities has shown how female sex hormones (estrogens), and chemicals that mimic estrogens, are leading to feminisation of male fish.
Found in some industrial chemicals and the contraceptive pill, they enter rivers via sewage treatment works. This causes reproductive problems by reducing fish breeding capability and in some cases can lead to male fish changing sex.
Other studies have also suggested that there may be a link between this phenomenon and the increase in human male fertility problems caused by testicular dysgenesis syndrome.