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      Exploring the potential association between brominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, perfluorinated compounds, phthalates, and bisphenol a in polycystic ovary syndrome: a case–control study


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          Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine-metabolic disorder that affects approximately 6-10% of women of child-bearing age. Although preliminary studies suggest that certain pollutants may act as endocrine disruptors in animals, little is known about their potential association with PCOS. The objective of this case-control pilot study is to determine whether women with PCOS have higher concentrations of specific environmental contaminants compared to women who have not developed PCOS.


          Fifty-two PCOS case-patients (diagnosed using the National Institutes of Health 1990 definition) and 50 controls were recruited in 2007–2008, from an urban academic medical center in Los Angeles, CA. Brominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) were measured in serum, and phthalates metabolites and bisphenol A (BPA) in urine.


          PCOS case-patients had significantly higher geometric mean (GM) serum concentrations of two PFCs: perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) (GM cases = 4.1 μg/L, GM controls = 2.3 μg/L; p = 0.001) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) (GM cases = 8.2 μg/L, GM controls = 4.9 μg/L; p = 0.01), and lower urinary concentrations of monobenzyl phthalate (mBzP) (GM cases = 7.5 μg/g creatinine, GM controls = 11.7 μg/g creatinine; p = 0.02). Logistic regression, controlling for body mass index, age and race, identified an increased likelihood of PCOS in subjects with higher serum concentrations of PFOA and PFOS (adjusted-ORs = 5.8–6.9, p < 0.05), and with lower urine concentrations of mBzP and mono-n-butyl phthalate (mBP) (aORs = 0.14–0.25, p < 0.05).


          Our data suggest that PCOS case-patients may differ from controls in their environmental contaminant profile. PCOS subjects had higher serum concentrations of two PFCs, PFOA and PFOS, and lower urine concentrations of mBP and mBzP. Future studies are needed to confirm these preliminary findings and determine if these chemicals or their precursors may have a role in the pathogenesis of PCOS.

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          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6823-14-86) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references30

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          Estimation of Average Concentration in the Presence of Nondetectable Values

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            Endocrine disruptors: from endocrine to metabolic disruption.

            Synthetic chemicals currently used in a variety of industrial and agricultural applications are leading to widespread contamination of the environment. Even though the intended uses of pesticides, plasticizers, antimicrobials, and flame retardants are beneficial, effects on human health are a global concern. These so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can disrupt hormonal balance and result in developmental and reproductive abnormalities. New in vitro, in vivo, and epidemiological studies link human EDC exposure with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Here we review the main chemical compounds that may contribute to metabolic disruption. We then present their demonstrated or suggested mechanisms of action with respect to nuclear receptor signaling. Finally, we discuss the difficulties of fairly assessing the risks linked to EDC exposure, including developmental exposure, problems of high- and low-dose exposure, and the complexity of current chemical environments.
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              Prevalence of the polycystic ovary syndrome in unselected black and white women of the southeastern United States: a prospective study.

              Estimates of the prevalence of the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in the general population have ranged from 2-20%. The vast majority of these reports have studied White populations in Europe, used limited definitions of the disorder, and/or used bias populations, such as those seeking medical care. To estimate the prevalence of this disorder in the United States and address these limitations, we prospectively determined the prevalence of PCOS in a reproductive-aged population of 369 consecutive women (174 White and 195 Black; aged 18-45 yr), examined at the time of their preemployment physical. Body measures were obtained, and body hair was quantified by a modified Ferriman-Gallwey (F-G) method. All exams were initially performed by 2 trained nurses, and any subject with an F-G score above 3 was reexamined by a physician, the same for all patients. Of the 369 women, 277 (75.1%) also agreed to complete a questionnaire and have additional blood drawn. Subjects were studied regardless of current estrogen/progestin hormonal use (28.5%). PCOS was defined as 1) oligoovulation, 2) clinical hyperandrogenism (i.e. hirsutism) and/or hyperandrogenemia, and 3) exclusion of other related disorders, such as hyperprolactinemia, thyroid abnormalities, and non-classic adrenal hyperplasia. Hirsutism was defined by a F-G score of 6 or more, and hyperandrogenemia was defined as a total or free testosterone, androstenedione, and/or dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate level above the 95th percentile of control values [i.e. all eumenorrheic women in the study, who had no hirsutism (F-G < or = 5) or acne and were receiving no hormonal therapy; n = 98]. Considering all 369 women studied, White and Black women had similar mean ages (29.4 +/- 7.1 and 31.1 +/- 7.8 yr, respectively), although White women had a lesser body mass than Black women (24.9 +/- 6.1 vs. 29.2 +/- 8.1 kg/m2, respectively; P < 0.001). Of these 7.6%, 4.6%, and 1.9% demonstrated a F-G score of 6 or more, 8 or 10, respectively, and there was no significant racial difference, with hirsutism prevalences of 8.0%, 2.8%, and 1.6% in Whites, and 7.1%, 6.1%, and 2.1% in Blacks, respectively. Of the 277 women consenting to a history and hormonal evaluation, 4.0% had PCOS as defined, 4.7% (6 of 129) of Whites and 3.4% (5 of 148) of Blacks. In conclusion, in our consecutive population of unselected women the prevalence of hirsutism varied from 2-8% depending on the chosen cut-off F-G score, with no significant difference between White and Black women. Using an F-G score of 6 or more as indicative of hirsutism, 3.4% of Blacks and 4.7% of Whites had PCOS as defined. These data suggest that PCOS may be one of most common reproductive endocrinological disorders of women.

                Author and article information

                BMC Endocr Disord
                BMC Endocr Disord
                BMC Endocrine Disorders
                BioMed Central (London )
                28 October 2014
                28 October 2014
                : 14
                : 1
                [ ]U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA USA
                [ ]University of California, Los Angeles, CA USA
                [ ]Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA USA
                [ ]Georgia Regents University, 1120 15th St, Rm. AA-311, 30904 Augusta, GA USA
                © Vagi et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

                This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Research Article
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                © The Author(s) 2014

                Endocrinology & Diabetes
                Endocrinology & Diabetes


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