Pesticides, chemicals can cause penile defects, toxicologist warns

The incidence of hypospadias - a birth defect of the male urethra - has increased in Israel by 30 percent in recent years.

By
June 3, 2008 22:11
2 minute read.
Pesticides, chemicals can cause penile defects, toxicologist warns

cockroach 224.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The incidence of hypospadias - a birth defect of the male urethra in which the opening forms abnormally somewhere along the shaft of the penis instead of at the tip - has increased in Israel by 30 percent in recent years due to exposure to pesticides in food and chemicals in the home environment, according to Prof. Yona Amitai, a veteran toxicologist and pediatrician and former head of the Health Ministry's Mother, Child and Adolescent Health Department. Speaking in Herzliya Monday at the first conference of the Environmental and Health Fund, Amitai said that 309 baby boys were born in Israel with this defect in 2001 and that the figure rose to 434 in 2005. Based on similar experience in other developed countries, it is believed that the increase is due to the mother's exposure to chemicals and toxins during pregnancy that disrupt normal hormonal activity. Another consequence of such exposure, he said, is cryptorchism or an undescended testis, in which they remain inside the body. Hypospadias is among the most common birth defects of the male genitalia, with cryptorchidism second. Reported incidences range from one in 4,000 to one in 125 male births. Most defects are not inherited and do not run in the family. Chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system and interact with steroid receptors are believed to be responsible for most cases. Among the disruptors are DDT, phthalates and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), common components of most baby bottles. Some research suggests that women who follow a vegetarian diet and eat a lot of food with high levels of phytoestrogens, such as soy, have a higher risk of hypospadias in their sons. Several teratogenic chemicals and various drugs have been shown to cause hypospadias in animals by interfering with androgen action in the embryo. Some experts believe endocrine disruptors may be interfering with human hormones as well. Hypospadias usually causes no functional urination problem except that the urine streams to the side rather than straight. The main complaint is esthetic, but it may also interfere with ejaculation and cause fertility problems. Most cases of hypospadias can be corrected in an operation during the first year of life. The newly formed Environment and Health Foundation will spend about $2 million a year in the next few years on research into the environmental influences on health in Israel. Amitai said that environmental factors can also be blamed for reducing the amount of sperm in semen and for causing girls to enter adolescence prematurely.

Related Content

[illustrative photo]
September 24, 2011
Diabetes may significantly increase risk of dementia

By UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN HEALTH SYSTEM