Connection Between Endometriosis And Exposure to Dioxin-Like Toxicants to Be Studied At UB

By Lois Baker

Release Date: November 23, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo epidemiologist Germaine Buck, Ph.D., has received a one-year, $100,000 grant to conduct a pilot study on the potential relationship between endometriosis, a major cause of infertility in women, and exposure to certain environmental toxicants.

Endometriosis is a condition in which fragments of the uterine lining, the endometrium, grow outside the uterus. It affects up to 10 percent of women of reproductive age; between 30 and 40 percent of those women are infertile.

Buck, associate professor of social and preventive medicine, said there is increasing speculation, based on animal studies, that environmental contaminants called halogenated organics -- which include dioxin, PCBs and pesticides -- may play a role in the development of the condition.

"Dioxin exposure has been associated with endometriosis in laboratory animals and in Rhesus monkeys," she noted. "Only a few pilot studies have been conducted in women, which is the reason for this study."

The researchers also will determine whether certain proteins in endometrial tissue may act as biomarkers of exposure to dioxin.

The study will allow investigators to assess the severity of endometriosis through actual exposure, based on blood and fat samples, as well as through concentration of biomarkers in the tissue.

Study participants will be recruited from women between the ages of 18 and 35 in Western New York newly diagnosed with endometriosis. Their disease state, biomarkers and exposure levels to the toxicants will be compared with information from control groups of women without the condition.

"The data from the study will help us determine whether environmental exposure at low doses adversely affects reproductive function in humans," Buck said.