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Farias, P(1); de Jager, C(2); Dewailly, E(3); Hernandez-Avila, M(1); Ayotte, P F(3)


DDT was used in Mexico in agriculture and, until more recently, in malaria control programs. Even though its use has been completely banned, exposure to this pesticide and its effects are still present in men from Chiapas, Mexico due to the long half-life of DDT and its metabolites in the environment and in the body. The objective of this study was to determine if the antiandrogenic and estrogenic properties of DDT and its metabolites were capable of altering men's hormones. In the year 2000, men were recruited from rural communities, 116 came from where DDT had been continually sprayed for malaria control and 28 came from where DDT was exceptionally used because of a hurricane in 1997. DDT and its metabolites were measured by gas cromatography and, hormones were measured by RIA. Corrected means of p,p'-DDE and DDT were: in the more exposed men 45 and 15 mg/kg lipid, respectively, and in the less exposed men 6.4 and 0.5 mg/kg lipid, respectively. Free testosterone significantly increased with higher p,p'-DDE levels, both in the more exposed men (p < 0.001) and in the less exposed men (p = 0.04). In the latter group, LH and total testosterone levels also increased significantly with increasing p,p'-DDE levels (p < 0.05), and FSH increased, but not significantly (p = 0.07). Although estradiol associations with p,p'-DDE in both groups were not significant, they had a negative direction. All relations remained even after controlling for other variables, such as age and body mass index. It seems that male hormes are altered by DDT and its metabolites at the levels seen in this study. The fact that the associations are stronger and clearer in the less exposed men may be expalined by a saturation effect. It will be necessary to study these associations more thoroughly by increasing the sample size and exposure range.

(1) Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica, Mexico

(2) Centre de Recherche en Biologie de la Reproduction, Université Laval, Québec City, QC, Canada

(3) Unié de recherche en santé publique, Centre de Recherche du CHUL-CHUQ, Université Laval, Québec City, QC, Canada

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.