Recently published research from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have indicated a link between endometriosis risk and pesticide use. The study published in Environmental Health Perspectives consisted of over 250 women with surgically confirmed Endometriosis (the only reliable way to confirm a diagnosis of Endometriosis) and a control group of 538 women between the years of 1996 and 2001.
Within the context of past studies of organochloride pesticides indicating estrogenic properties, this indicated a potential to increase the risk of conditions such as Endometriosis which are estrogen driven, until now larger scale studies have not examined the potential risk in relation to exposure to any great depth.
The study concludes
“In our case–control study of women enrolled in a large health care system in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, serum concentrations of β-HCH and mirex were positively associated with endometriosis. Extensive past use of environmentally persistent OCPs in the United States or present use in other countries may affect the health of reproductive-age women.”
Mirex pesticides have been banned in many countries, for example the United States banned it in 1976, prior to this it was in widespread use in order to prevent the spead of fire ants.
β-HCH or beta-Hexachlorocyclohexane is a byproduct of lindane also a banned pesiticde since at least 1985 – however studies as recent as 2009 have found that the chemical still exists in water and soil across used areas. it is also foudn pesent in many people with tentative links to Parkinsons and Alzheimers (Medscape Medical News – July 2009). With its long life and prolonged existence in the environment this is of ongoing concern for women with an increased risk of Endometriosis.