To explore endocrine effects in relation to para,para'-dichloro-diphenyl-dichloro ethylene (p,p'-DDE) body burden and past occupational exposure to its precursor dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro ethane (DDT), we assayed serum sex hormones, including serum luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), 17beta-estradiol (E2), testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and p,p'-DDE levels in 107 male participants in a 1946-1950 anti-malarial campaign in Sardinia, Italy. Cumulative DDT exposure during the anti-malarial operations was retrospectively estimated from detailed reports of the anti-malarial agency. Ortho,para-DDE, and its precursor ortho,para-DDT were always below the detection limit. p,p'-DDT was detected in 14/107 subjects, and p,p'-DDE in 106/107 subjects. The median lipid-adjusted p,p'-DDE serum concentration over the total study population was 396 parts per billion (interquartile range 157-1045), and it did not vary according to the job at the time of anti-malarial operations, nor was it affected by cumulative DDT exposure. LH, FSH, and SHBG, but not testosterone or E2, showed a significant positive correlation with age. Neither current serum p,p'-DDE nor past cumulative DDT exposure affected sex hormone concentrations. Our results suggest that (1) the low current p,p'-DDE serum concentration does not affect serum hormone levels, and (2) past cumulative DDT exposure is not correlated with the current p,p'-DDE serum level, nor does it show persistent effects on serum hormone levels.
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