Wrapped Up In Books

Ladies, watch those ovaries!

I, like any other U of T alum, receive the University of Toronto magazine. Usually this is a write-off (the writing is seriously mediocre) and I’ll give it a half-assed read through just because I feel guilty tossing it straight into the recycling bin. This month’s instalment had a tiny abstract of an article that actually caught my interest for once. I’ve written it verbatim below for your perusal.

Toxins Could Reduce Fertility In Offspring

Mothers who are exposed to certain toxic environmental compounds prior to pregnancy could limit their offspring’s fertility, according to a new study by researchers at U of T and Mount Sinai Hospital’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute.

The study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, provides evidence that when females are exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, the number of eggs in their offspring’s ovaries is reduced by two-thirds. These hydrocarbons are known carcinogens and one of the most widespread organic pollutants. They are found in cigarette smoke, car exhaust, fumes from wood stoves and in charred and smoked foods. The chemicals accumulate in the body’s breast and fatty tissues before pregnancy, affecting the fetus.

“While young girls and women may not have thought about their reproductive future, exposure to these toxins may now reduce the fertility of their children,” says Professor Andrea Jurisicova of obstetrics and gynecology, lead author of the study (which is based on an animal model) and the Canada Research Chair in Molecular and Reproductive Medicine at the Lunenfeld Institute.

The reduction of eggs in a woman’s ovaries can lead to premature menopause, which not only limits reproduction but is also associated with osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke and depression.

Written by Noemie Wiggett

So there you have it! I think it’s really interesting, and not just because I want to pursue obstetrical epidemiology. I am a woman and you can bet your ass that I look out for my own best interests. I seriously cannot believe the instance of young people who still smoke, and I’m especially surprised at young women who smoke with no regard to the future implications it holds. I am not free from sin on this one; I do admit to smoking in high school if only because I thought it was cool (despite losing a grandfather from lung cancer when I was very young and he was, too). However, that was literally 10 years ago and I am a different person now.

I think the majority of people believe that they need to watch out for their own health and be more cautious of the environment around them once they are already pregnant. This is, clearly, too late. Being proactive is the best mode of action one can take, though, of course, this will not absolve you from encountering problems in the future.

I am not saying that you must deny every vice. Indulge some vices but deny others. Find substitutions for some. If you love smoking, wean yourself off of it and then find a replacement for it. I adore a good red wine (shiraz and chianti are personal faves) and don’t even get me started on good dark chocolate. However, I don’t have these things daily and usually once I cave to the craving I’m over it at least for a few days.

Having just finished my 16 month post at Princess Margaret Hospital (a hospital specializing in cancer care) I am still not immune to the shock I feel whenever I see patients with their IV drips, doctors in scrubs, and other healthcare workers standing around and smoking outside the entrances. One half of them are living with the outcome of smoking (or are otherwise affected and perhaps just don’t give a shit) and the other half should really know better.

We’re living in what should be an enlightened age. Technology is progressing at the speed of light and the medical research is similarly trying to keep pace. While I support both of these things I do not ever want to be on the receiving end of any of the research. Stay healthy while you can, and if you’re not (and it is this category I’d consider myself falling into) makes strides to improve your lifestyle choices. And probably stopping smoking is a good place to start.

Copyright © 2008 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.

eta by e: I listened to this interview (video popout) between Peter Mansbridge & Dr Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ on the (potential) over-emphasis of mainstream media publication of small-scale studies. Super interesting.


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