The effects of PCB exposure and fish consumption on endogenous hormones

Victoria Persky*, Mary Turyk, Henry A. Anderson, Lawrence P. Hanrahan, Claire Falk, Dyan N. Steenport, Robert Chatterton, Sally Freels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Previous studies have suggested that exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may alter thyroid function, but data on effects of PCB exposure on other endogenous hormones has been lacking. The current study is ancillary to a larger investigation of the effects of Great Lakes fish consumption on PCBs and reproductive function. In the current study we examine associations of PCBs, 1,1-bis (4-chlorophenyl)-2,2-dichloroethene (DDE), and fish consumption with thyroid and steroid hormones in 178 men and PCBs, DDE, and fish consumption with thyroid hormones in 51 women from the original study. Serum PCB level and consumption of Great Lakes fish are associated with significantly lower levels of thyroxine (T4) and free thyroxine index (FTI) in women and with significantly lower levels of T4 in men. Fish consumption, but not PCB level, is significantly and inversely associated with triiodothyronine (T3) in men. Results for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) are inconsistent. Among men, there are significant inverse associations of both PCB and fish consumption with sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG)-bound testosterone, but no association with SHBG or free testosterone. There are no significant overall associations of PCB, DDE, or fish consumption with estrone sulfate, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, or dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. The results of this study are consistent with previous studies showing effects of fish consumption and PCB exposure on thyroid hormones and suggest that PCBs may also decrease steroid binding to SHBG. Elucidation of specific mechanisms must await future investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1275-1283
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001


  • Consumption
  • Fish
  • Hormones
  • PCBs
  • Steroid
  • Thyroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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