The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism Journal Article

Phthalates and Sex Steroid Hormones

January 30, 2020
 

Miriam J Woodward, Vladislav Obsekov, Melanie H Jacobson, Linda G Kahn, Leonardo Trasande
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 105, Issue 4, April 2020, dgaa039
https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgaa039

Abstract

Context

Phthalates are commonly found in commercial packaging, solvents, vinyl, and personal care products, and there is concern for potential endocrine-disrupting effects in males. The commonly used di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) has progressively been replaced by seldom studied compounds, such as bis-2-ethylhexyl terephthalate and 1,2-cyclohexane dicarboxylic acid di-isononyl ester (DINCH).

Objective

To investigate the associations between the urinary phthalate metabolites and serum sex steroid hormone concentrations in a nationally representative sample of adult males.

Design, Setting, Participants, and Intervention

This was a cross-sectional analysis of data from the 2013–2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey among 1420 male participants aged ≥20 years.

Main Outcome Measures

Serum levels of total testosterone, estradiol, SHBG, and derived sex hormone measurements of free testosterone, bioavailable testosterone, and free androgen index were examined as log-transformed continuous variables.

Results

Phthalate metabolites were not statistically significantly associated with sex hormone concentrations among all men. However, associations varied by age. High molecular weight phthalates were associated with lower total, free, and bioavailable testosterone among men age ≥60. Specifically, each doubling of ΣDEHP was associated with 7.72% lower total testosterone among older men (95% confidence interval, −12.76% to −2.39%). Low molecular phthalates were associated with lower total, free, and bioavailable testosterone among men age 20 to 39 and ΣDINCH was associated with lower total testosterone among men age ≥40.

Conclusions

Our results indicate that males may be vulnerable to different phthalate metabolites in age-specific ways. These results support further investigation into the endocrine-disrupting effects of phthalates.

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