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Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and Disorders of Penile Development in Humans.

This paper reviews the current knowledge on the environmental effects on penile development in humans. The specific focus is on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), a heterogeneous group of natural or manmade substances that interfere with endocrine function, and whether they can induce hypospadias and micropenis in male neonates. Epidemiological data and animal observations first raised suspicions about environmental effects, leading to the testis dysgenesis syndrome (TDS) hypothesis. More recent research has provided stronger indications that TDS may indeed be the result of the direct or indirect effects of EDCs. Drawing on epidemiological and toxicological studies, we also report on the effects of maternal diet and substances like pesticides, phthalates, bisphenol A, and polychlorinated biphenyls. Proximity to contamination hazards and occupational exposure are also suspected to contribute to the occurrence of hypospadias and micropenis. Lastly, the cumulative effects of EDCs and the possibility of transgenerational effects, with the penile development of subsequent generations being affected, raise concerns for long-term public health.

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