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Int J Androl. 2010 Apr;33(2):463-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.2009.01047.x.

Combined exposures to anti-androgenic chemicals: steps towards cumulative risk assessment.

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Centre for Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, University of London, London, UK.


There is widespread exposure to anti-androgens, a group of chemicals able to disrupt androgen action in foetal life, with irreversible de-masculinizing consequences. Substances of concern include certain phthalates, pesticides and chemicals used in cosmetics and personal care products. Although people come into contact with several anti-androgens, chemicals risk assessment normally does not take account of the effects of combined exposures. However, a disregard for combination effects may lead to underestimations of risks and for this reason, we have assessed the feasibility of conducting cumulative risk assessment, where the focus is on considering the effects of exposure to multiple chemicals, via multiple routes and pathways. Following recent recommendations by the US National Research Council, we have, for the first time, included phthalates and other anti-androgenic chemicals, a total of 15 substances. On the basis of exposure estimates for the individual chemicals and reference doses for anti-androgenicity, we have used the hazard index approach. We show that the cumulative risks from anti-androgen exposures exceed acceptable levels for people on the upper end of exposure levels. The value obtained for median exposures to the 15 substances can be judged tolerable. However, significant knowledge gaps exist that prevent us from arriving at definitive conclusions. Of greatest concern is an absence of appropriate in vivo toxicity data about large numbers of in vitro androgen receptor antagonists. Knowledge about the effect profiles of these chemicals will lead to higher risk estimates. Our analysis suggests that risk reductions can be achieved by limiting exposures to the plasticizer diethyl hexyl phthalate, the cosmetic ingredients butyl- and propyl paraben, the pesticides vinclozolin, prochloraz and procymidone and bisphenol A.

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