High Number of Endometriosis
Cases Linked to Environment
November 26th, 2007 @
a half million women across North
America are believed to have
endometriosis. The disease was
considered relatively rare in the
1980s, so why has the number of
cases been skyrocketing?
Researchers are now focusing on a
potential environmental link, and
it's information every woman should
be aware of.
Endometriosis is diagnosed more
often than it used to be. But still,
many doctors believe that doesn't
account for the huge growth rates.
University of Utah has received a $2
million contract from the federal
government to study different
environmental chemicals and if they
could potentially be impacting or
even causing endometriosis.
and a half ago Carri Fergusson
started having horrible pelvic pain.
days my pain would be so bad it
would be debilitating. I couldn't
walk. I couldn't do anything," she
year of seeing doctors, Fergusson
was finally diagnosed with
endometriosis. The disease occurs
when endometrial tissue lining the
uterus grows outside of the uterus.
hate for other women to have to go
through some of the things that I
had to go through," she said.
doctors say 10 percent of
reproductive-age women suffer
from the disease. And pain isn't the
Meyer is among 40 percent of
patients who suffer from
infertility. She's been trying to
have a baby for more than seven
you feel -- at least I felt --
broken. I felt less of a woman," she
Matthew Peterson, OBGYN chairperson
at the University of Utah, said, "It
represents a significant health
problem for young women."
of endometriosis isn't clear. But
the scientific community is
embracing a possible association
with synthetic chemicals in the
Varner, vice chairperson for
research at the University of Utah,
said, "None of us can get away from
them anywhere. We can't go anywhere
on the planet and not find these."
study, patients undergoing surgery
to remove endometriosis growths will
also give fat samples to be tested
for various chemicals, including
"endocrine disruptors" like dioxins
Larson, a toxic chemical researcher
at the Rocky Mountain Center for
Occupational and Environmental
Health, said, "They do not break
down very rapidly in the
and PCBs have already both been
linked to endometriosis. Studies
found monkeys exposed to the
chemicals developed the disease. And
just recently, researchers found
women with endometriosis had higher
levels of the chemicals in their
bodies than other women.
people are exposed through the food
chain, from contaminated soil, to
plants, to fish and animals, and
chemicals have turned up in Utah
soil. In 1986, the EPA detected
dioxin at the old Wasatch Chemical
Company. Twelve years later, high
levels were found at the old Magcorp
the 1980s, soil tests showed PCBs at
the Tooele Army Depot and the Ekotek
plant in Salt Lake. This year PCBs
were found around several homes at
Hill Air Force Base and in Utah Lake
exposure or a long enough period of
time can significantly increase the
health risks," Larson said.
chemicals that will be studied show
up in everyday items. Endocrine
disruptor bisphenol-A is found in
the inside of metal food cans, hard
plastic drinking bottles, some
plastic containers, baby bottles and
children's sippy cups.
scientists believe the BPA chemicals
in plastics can leach out into the
environment when the plastic is
heated. The toxic chemical
researcher we spoke with said he
doesn't recommend heating plastics
in the microwave.
emission is going to be both in the
vapor that goes into the air as well
as possibly to the food," Larson
Phthalates have impaired sexual
development in male rodents.
Phthalates are found in nail polish,
shampoo, perfume, deodorant,
lotions, hairspray and toothpaste.
have concern is when they get into
the inhalation, if you inhale it,"
So is it
possible these chemicals could also
Peterson said, "We don't know, and
that's why the study is being
potential is scary, finding a cause
could also lead to better treatment
and a cure.
Fergusson told us, "Just knowing
what caused it would help you better
Ann Meyer said, "It definitely gives
me hope that Mike and my children
won't have to potentially suffer
this type of fate."
from five different Utah hospitals
will be recruiting more than 400
patients to participate in this
study. The fat samples where the
chemicals accumulate will be sent
out of state to be analyzed. So this
is a long process. It will take two
or three years before the results
For safe products without harmful