Chemicals Hitting Males Where It Hurts

Toxins triggering sex changes across species, research finds
By Amelia Atlas,  Newser User
Posted Dec 7, 2008 5:28 AM CST
Male polar bears have shown an increased incidence of hermaphroditism.
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(Newser) – Common chemicals are speeding the pace of evolution and having a feminizing impact on males across several species, reports the Independent. New research reveals that baby boys whose mothers have been exposed to more "gender-bending" chemicals—endocrine-disrupters like many pesticides—have smaller, feminized genitals. "This research shows that the basic male tool kit is under threat," said the report's author.

Over 100,000 chemicals have been released into the environment in past years, and the effects are a "large red flag," warns the report. From hermaphroditic polar bears to egg-producing male fish, the changes mark a global shift toward feminization that could have devastating consequences on the ability of animals, including humans, to reproduce.  "It is leading to the most rapid pace of evolution in the history of the world," said one scientist.