Urinary mycoestrogens, body size and breast development in New Jersey girls.
Sci Total Environ. 2011 Oct 3. Epub 2011 Oct 3. PMID: 21975003
The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 195 Little Albany Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, United States; School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 683 Hoes Lane West, Piscataway, NJ 08854, United States.
BACKGROUND: Despite extensive research and interest in endocrine disruptors, there are essentially no epidemiologic studies of estrogenic mycotoxins, such as zeranol and zearalenone (ZEA). ZEA mycoestrogens are present in grains and other plant foods through fungal contamination, and in animal products (e.g., meat, eggs, dairy products) through deliberate introduction of zeranol into livestock to enhance meat production, or by indirect contamination of animals through consumption of contaminated feedstuff. Zeranol is banned for use in animal husbandry in the European Union and other countries, but is still widely used in the US. Surprisingly, little is known about the health effects of these mycoestrogens, including their impact on puberty in girls, a period highly sensitive to estrogenic stimulation. OBJECTIVES AND METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis among 163 girls, aged 9 and 10years, participating in the Jersey Girl Study to measure urinary mycoestrogens and their possible relationship to body size and development. RESULTS: We found that mycoestrogens were detectable in urine in 78.5% of the girls, and that urinary levels were predominantly associated with beef and popcorn intake. Furthermore, girls with detectable urinary ZEA mycoestrogen levels tended to be shorter and less likely to have reached the onset of breast development. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that ZEA mycoestrogens may exert anti-estrogenic effects similar to those reported for isoflavones. To our knowledge, this was the first evaluation of urinary mycoestrogens and their potential health effects in healthy girls. However, our findings need replication in larger studies with more heterogeneous populations, using a longitudinal approach.