Our Stolen Futurea book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers
 
 

 

 

While there remains (as of March 2001) scientific uncertainty about the impact of most contaminants on the pace and pattern of pubertal development in people, a wealth of data exists in the scientific literature on animals showing that endocrine disrupting compounds affect the rate of sexual development in rats and mice.

 

 
 

Contaminants can both speed and slow the rate of sexual development. In general, it would appear from existing data that estrogen mimics speed sexual development in females, while anti-androgens slow sexual development in males. This story is far from complete. For example, we could find no report of a test of an androgen mimic (such as tributyl tin) on the rate of sexual development in males. Androgen mimics should speed the onset of puberty in males.

Unfortunately, the sparseness of the scientific literature indicates that most compounds have not been tested systematically for their effects. The studies that have been done, however, reveal very strong effects, suggesting that other hormonally-active compounds, not yet studied, will also have impacts.

The following table provides a sample of existing studies. For each contaminant it indicates whether sexual development is sped or slowed in males vs. females.

Contaminants affecting the
rate of sexual development in animals
Compound
Females
Males
Aldrin Advances puberty
Gellert 1978
 
Atrazine Delays puberty
Laws et al. 2000
 
Bisphenol A Advances puberty
Howdeshell et al. 1999
 
Chlordecone
(Kepone)
Advances puberty
Gellert 1978, Sierra and Uphouse 1986
 
p-p'-DDE   Delays puberty
Kelce et al. 1995
o-p'-DDT
Advances puberty
Heinrichs et al. 1971, Gellert 1978
 
Dioxin   Delays puberty
Gray et al. 1997
Leptin (see below) Advances puberty
Chehab et al. 1997
 
Linuron   Delays puberty
Gray et al. 1999
Methoxychlor Delays puberty
Gray et al. 1989
Delays puberty
Gray et al. 1989, Gray et al. 1999
Dibutyl phthalate   

Delays puberty
Gray et al. 1999
Mylchreest et al. 1999

Diethylhexyl phthalate  


Delays puberty
Gray et al. 1999

Polybrominated
biphenyls (PBB)
Delays puberty
Harris et al. 1978
No effect
Henck et al. 1994
No effect
Henck et al. 1994
Polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCB)
Advances puberty (Aroclor 1221)
Gellert 1978
Delays puberty
(Aroclor 1254)
Sager and Girard 1994
 
Vinclozolin   Delays puberty
Monosson et al. 1999

 

About leptin: Leptin is a recently discovered new hormone involved in weight regulation and the timing of puberty.

 

 

 

 

 

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