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Study finds popular pesticide could be behind rise in erectile dysfunction among young men
By Cassie B. // Dec 06, 2023

Pesticides are damaging human health and the environment in numerous ways, and now one commonly used insecticide has been singled out for its role in the rise in erectile dysfunction among young men.

This is according to a study that was published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, which found that being exposed to chlorpyrifos as well as other pesticides in the organophosphate family was linked to the development of erectile dysfunction. This adds on to the significant body of scientific evidence demonstrating that exposure to pesticides leads to reduced fertility in men, including abnormal sperm development, a lower sperm count and reduced sperm quality.

This news is not surprising as pesticide exposure has also been proven to have an effect on the endocrine system, including hormones and reproductive health.

This could explain why erectile dysfunction has been on the rise, with more than 300 million men around the world expected to develop the condition by 2025. Also referred to as impotence, it is marked by difficulty in obtaining or maintaining an erection. Although it generally affects men from age 40 onward, its prevalence has been increasing in recent years among adolescents, which means the problem cannot be attributed solely to age.

In the study, researchers measured the levels of a metabolite of chlorpyrifos in urine using data taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In particular, they investigated the urinary levels of this metabolite in patients who reported in a questionnaire that they were either “sometimes” or “never” able to achieve an erection.

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They also used a logistic and linear regression to compare different sociodemographic variables related to chlorpyrifos exposure and look for risk factors and other facets of a potential relationship between this pesticide and erectile dysfunction.

While problems such as physical activity, diabetes, smoking and aging had the strongest association with erectile dysfunction, the study also found that people who were exposed to chlorpyrifos had a higher risk of the condition, with the risk climbing as their exposure to the toxic substance rose.

It is also worth noting that exposure to pesticides prior to puberty can jeopardize reproduction by interrupting young men's reproductive development and testicular homeostasis. Moreover, they have found it can have multi-generational effects.

Meanwhile, pesticides in soil, ground water and household products have been identified as causes of developmental abnormalities. A man’s reproductive health can be damaged if they are exposed at any time from when they are in utero through adulthood.

It is believed that organophosphates like chlorpyrifos affect the body by dysregulating the cholinergic system and disrupting the endocrine system. Many organophosphates bind directly to hormone receptors and affect androgen signaling. Their contribution to obesity can also play a role as obesity is another known risk factor for erectile dysfunction.

Another study involving the common fungicide vinclozolin found that some of the male offspring of animals who had been exposed to the chemical during pregnancy had a complete lack of interest in the females of their species.

Control your pesticide exposure by choosing organic

Despite the evidence demonstrating their harms, the government does not seem very interested in protecting people from these dangerous toxins, with the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals vacating a 2021 decision by the EPA to cancel food tolerances for chlorpyrifos.

Therefore, the best way to protect yourself is by purchasing organic fruits and vegetables or growing them yourself. It is impossible to control your environmental exposure if you live in areas where these chemicals are sprayed, but focusing on the factors within your control can reduce your exposure.

With 90 percent of Americans having one or more pesticide biomarkers in their bodies, the need for greater awareness and vigilance when it comes to pesticides could not be more pressing.

Sources for this article include:



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