The Estrogen Effect: Assault on the Male

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The Estrogen Effect: Assault on the Male (53:00)
Item# 7466

Will environmental changes brought about by humans eventually destroy the potential for males of all species to reproduce? This Emmy Award-winning documentary explores that frightening possibility. Using sophisticated investigative techniques, scientists trace the ripple effect of estrogenic compounds in the environment. At first, we observe slight changes in the natural order, then witness the wider effects: seriously altered ecosytems and the disruption of fundamental life processes that result in reduced male reproduction. The dismal conclusion is that the process, unabated, may result in male sterility over time. A BBC Production. (53 minutes)

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Segments in this Video - (12)

1. Sperm Abnormalities (05:17)
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Danish scientists discover abnormalities in the sperm of otherwise normal men. Sperm count studies from the 1930s reveal a fifty percent drop in sperm count over the past fifty years.

2. Testicular Cancer (03:08)

In the U.S. and U.K. testicular cancer has become the most common cancer in young men. Scientists suspect that sperm production is disturbed prenatally by abnormal, primitive-looking cells.

3. Male Reproductive Disorders (03:48)

Testicular non-descent has doubled in the last 30-40 years. The urethral opening occurs on the dorsum of the penis rather than on the tip in cases of hyperspadias. Intersex conditions are also on the rise. What is affecting fetal development of the male reproductive system?

4. Importance of Prenatal Sertoli Cells (04:16)

The number of Sertoli cells formed in the critical period of prenatal development fixes sperm output in the adult male. Abnormalities in prenatal Sertoli cell development may give rise to testicular cancer. Estrogen is thought to affect Sertoli cell development.

5. Prostate Cancer and Hermaphroditism (03:14)

Diethylstilboestrol (DES) was prescribed as an anti-miscarriage drug in the 1940s and 1950s. Scientists discover that DES given to pregnant mice results in offspring with intersex conditions (hermaphroditism), hormone feminization, and prostate disease.

6. Estrogen Exposure and Diet (04:13)

Scientists hunt for something occurring from pregnancy through childhood that explains the prevalence of estrogen in males. A modern diet of high fats and protein change the environment of the gut, thus allowing for the recycling of estrogens instead of eliminating them.

7. Compromised Endocrine System (06:08)

Fish in a Great Lakes wildlife study exhibit cancer, de-masculinization, and hermaphroditism. Xenobiotic estrogens from pollutants interact with receptor molecules and turn on their biological effects to become hormone blocks, hormone accelerators, or metabolic transformers.

8. Contamination and Alligator Reproduction (05:53)

In Florida's Lake Apopka, scientists discover alligator eggs contaminated with the chemical pollutant DDE, an endocrine disruptor. Surviving male alligators are emasculated and many cannot reproduce.

9. Sewage Effluence and Fish Gender Change (04:37)

In the U.K., scientists discover that male fish exposed to sewage effluence develop hormonal changes and begin the process of gender change. Scientists come to a dead end in their search for the estrogen source in rivers.

10. Estrogenic Industrial Chemicals (03:39)

In laboratory studies on breast cancer, scientists discover an estrogenic substance leaching from plastic tubing used in their experiments. The culprit, nonylphenol, is a widely used industrial chemical that was never supposed to be estrogenic.

11. Safety of Drinking Water (03:04)

Nonylphenols present in high concentrations in rivers end up in drinking water. Water companies in the U.K. do not routinely monitor the presence of this compound, and further studies on estrogenic compounds drinking water must be carried out.

12. Estrogenic Compounds: Threat to Human Reproduction (02:58)

The accumulation of estrogenic compounds released into the environment is a threat to male reproduction capabilities. Governmental legislation must include transgenerational health effects in their consideration of chemical releases into the environment.

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