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Environ Health Prev Med. 2013 May;18(3):221-9. doi: 10.1007/s12199-012-0310-x. Epub 2012 Nov 2.

The relationship between dioxins and salivary steroid hormones in Vietnamese primiparae.

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Division of Health Sciences, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kanazawa University, 5-11-80 Kodatsuno, Kanazawa, Japan.



Nearly 40 years after Agent Orange was last sprayed, we conducted a cross-sectional study to evaluate the impact of dioxin exposure on salivary hormones in Vietnamese primiparae. Our previous studies found higher levels of salivary cortisol and cortisone in one of the most highly dioxin-contaminated areas, known as a "hot-spot", than in a non-exposed area. As a result, we suggested that further research with a larger number of participants would be needed to confirm whether dioxin affects steroid hormone levels in Vietnamese primiparae.


The concentration of steroid hormones in saliva was determined by liquid chromatography (electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry), whereas the concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs) in breast milk were determined by gas chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry, for a sample of the population from a "hot-spot" (n = 16) and a non-exposed area (n = 10). All subjects were aged between 20 and 30 years and had children aged between 4 and 16 weeks.


The mean toxic equivalence of PCDDs, PCDFs and PCDDs + PCDFs in breast milk in the hot-spot area was found to be significantly higher than in the non-exposed area (p < 0.001). Likewise, salivary cortisol, cortisone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels were significantly higher in the hotspot area than in the non-exposed area (p < 0.05). As a result, herein we report, for the first time, that salivary DHEA levels in primiparae are higher in a hot-spot than in a non-exposed area, and that this may be the result of dioxin exposure.


Our findings highlight the long-term effects of Agent Orange/dioxin on steroid hormones in Vietnamese primiparae in the post-war period.

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