Scientist links chemical cocktail to birth defects and infertility

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

A leading UK scientist has linked exposure to a cocktail of chemicals in cosmetics and cleaning products to birth defects and infertility in men.

Professor Richard Sharpe, of the Medical Research Council, warned in a CHEM Trust report published this week that chemicals in consumer products are likely to be partly responsible for deteriorating reproductive health in men.

Malformation of the penis, low sperm counts and testicular cancer are all reproductive problems that have become increasingly common in recent decades.

Reproductive health

Sharpe believes exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals plays a role in the worsening state of men’s reproductive health.

The origins of these reproductive problems – collectively called Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome – can be traced to development in the womb.

It is there that testosterone is needed to form a normal penis and make the testicles drop.

Sharpe claims that many everyday chemicals in the environment and consumer products have the potential to block the action of testosterone in the womb and therefore harm future male reproductive health.

Collective threat

The Professor warned that these chemicals are not necessarily a threat individually but become a concern when they are together.

Sharpe said: “Because it is the summation of effect of hormone disrupting chemicals that is critical, and the number of such chemicals that humans are exposed to is considerable, this provides the strongest possible incentive to minimise human exposure to all relevant hormone disruptors, especially women planning pregnancy, as it is obvious that the higher the exposure the greater the risk”.

CHEM Trust, who commissioned the report, is calling for Sharpe’s concerns to be addressed within the body of REACH legislation in order to reduce overall exposure to hormone disruptors.

“It is high time that public health policy is based on good science and that regulatory authorities have health protection, rather than industry protection, uppermost in mind,” ​said CHEM Trust director Elizabeth Salter Green.

CHEM Trust’s stated goal as a charity is to protect people and wildlife from harmful chemicals.

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