Environmental toxicants and human fertility.
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Globally there is increasing concern that the environment is having a negative impact on human health. Hormone-like activity and endocrine toxicity of environmental toxicants have been documented in the contemporary literature raising concern that exposure to these chemicals could alter human reproductive function and affect fertility. In addition, epidemiological reports of an association between exposure to chemical toxicants in the workplace and adverse reproductive outcomes together with detection of environmental toxicant residues in serum and ovarian follicular fluid, has led to widespread concern that chemical contaminants may be a contributing factor in the pathobiology of idiopathic infertility in the general population. While the epidemiological evidence is equivocal, animal studies provide biological plausibility for a potential association between environmental toxicant exposures and altered reproductive function. Furthermore, cell and organ culture experiments illustrate potential mechanisms of toxicant action on the reproductive system. This review summarizes the evidence linking environmental toxicant exposure and infertility and examines the biological plausibility for this association.
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