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Scientists find that sperm cells are affected by chemicals in household products

科学家们发现家用日常化学品可以对精细胞造成影响

Chemicals in common household products such as toothpaste, soap and plastic toys have a direct impact on human sperm which could help explain rising levels of male infertility, scientists have found.

在牙膏、香皂或者塑料玩具这些家庭日常用品中含有的化学物质可以对精细胞直接造成影响,科学家们认为在这方面的发现可以帮助解决现在仍在加剧的男性不育问题。

One in three "non-toxic" chemicals used in the manufacture of everyday items significantly affected the potency of sperm cells, which may account for the high incidence of unexplained infertility in the human population, the researchers said.

在被标为"无毒"的各种各样的日用物品中,有三分之一可以明显地影响精细胞的授精能力,这也许可以解释为什么现在人群中至今无法解释的不育症的发病率高企的问题,研究者们这样说。

It is the first time that a study has found a direct effect of the many ubiquitous man‑made chemicals in the environment on a vital function of human sperm. The findings will raise further concerns about the hidden toxicity of chemicals deemed safe by toxicology tests.

这个研究将第一次揭示环境中普遍存在的人造化学物质对人类精细胞主要功能造成的影响。其成果将用从毒理学角度检测一般看来无毒的物质的潜在危害的角度唤起大众对此的关注。

But the researchers believe they have developed a new way of testing the impact of household chemicals on human sperm which will allow regulatory authorities in Europe to decide whether to ban or impose restrictions on their use in certain products.

而且研究者们相信自己已经得出一种新的检测方法,来测试日用化学品对人类精细胞的影响,从而让欧洲权威管理机构可以根据此方法禁止生产或对具体产品进行限制。

The study was part of wider research into so-called "endocrine-disrupting" chemicals that for several years have been linked with declining sperm counts and widespread male infertility.

这项研究其实应归类于一项更广泛的研究,即"环境激素研究",这个关键词在过去的数年中,曾经被广泛地引用于男性不育症和精子数减少的课题。

In some cases, these chemicals are thought to mimic female sex hormones – oestrogens – and in other cases act as anti-androgens, the male sex hormones, thereby interfering with the male reproductive system.

在有些情况下,这些化学品被认为和女性荷尔蒙——雌二醇性质接近,或者从另一个角度讲近似于抗雄性激素,从而对男性生殖系统有影响。

However, the scientists found that one in three common household chemicals found in products such as sun screens, detergents and plastics directly sabotaged the human sperm's swimming behaviour and caused them to prematurely release the critical enzymes needed to penetrate and fertilise the egg cell – which would render the sperm infertile.

而且,科学家发现有三分之一的日用化学制品,比如防晒油、洗涤剂、塑料可以直接对精子的游动产生影响,并使它们过早地释放应该在精子穿透卵细胞起到重要作用的酶,从而导致不育。

They also found that the concentrations needed to trigger these adverse reactions were similar to the very low levels commonly found within the human body. In addition, they showed for the first time that there was a "cocktail effect", when a number of chemicals worked together to amplify their individual effects.

他们同时发现可以导致这些不利影响所需要的浓度和在人体内发现过的浓度都是很细微的。此外,他们首次公布了一种"鸡尾酒效应",即几种不同化学物质同时起作用时,效果将成倍增大。

"For the first time, we have shown a direct link between exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals from industrial products and adverse effects on human sperm function," Professor Niels Skakkebaek, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, said.

"这是我们第一次展示不同的物品中存在的环境激素类物质对人类精细胞功能的妨害作用。"丹麦哥本哈根大学医学院的Niels Skakkebaek教授这样说。

"In my opinion, our findings are clearly of concern as some endocrine-disrupting chemicals are possibly more dangerous than previously thought. However, it remains to be seen from forthcoming clinical studies whether our findings may explain reduced couple fertility which is very common in modern societies," Professor Skakkebaek told The Independent.

"我认为,我们的成果明确地显示,具有使内分泌紊乱作用的化学品比先前想象的更为危险。其与现代社会中不断加剧的不孕不育问题之间的联系,将在以后的临床试验中进一步得到证实。"Skakkebaek教授对独立报记者说。

Professor Skakkebaek has pioneered the scientific investigation of rising male infertility. In 1991, he produced the first evidence showing that human sperm counts had fallen by nearly 50 per cent in less than 50 years – low sperm counts are a major cause of male infertility.

Skakkebaek教授是运用科学统计手段研究不断增多的男性不育现象的先驱,在1991年,他就用研究证明人类的精子数量在最近不到50年里下降了50%,而低下的精子数量是不育症的主要原因。

Some years later, scientists found that some common chemicals have an "oestrogenic" or "antiandrogenic" effect on the male reproductive system, which could be particularly important in the development of male foetuses in the womb during the critical first six months when the reproductive tissues form.

又过了几年,科学家们发现一些很常见的化学品也具有"类雌性激素"或者"类抗雄性激素"的特征,并对男性生殖系统产生作用,尤其在男性婴儿在子宫中的头六个月,生殖系统刚开始成形这个阶段。

However, the latest research, published in The EMBO Journal and carried out with Timo Strünker of the Centre of Advanced European Studies and Research in Bonn, Germany, found that 30 out of 96 common household chemicals had a direct effect on the "catsper" protein which controls the sperm cell's motility, or swimming agility, and its ability to enter the egg cell to trigger fertilisation.

到了现在最新的研究中,由来自德国伯恩的欧洲先进研究中心的Timo Strünker在EMBO Journal (欧洲分子生物学杂志)上发表的一篇文章中表示,在96种日常普通化学品里,有30种可以直接作用于控制精子活性的"精子阳离子通道"蛋白质,从而影响到精子的游动,钻进卵细胞并授孕这个过程。

"We have found a completely novel way in which endocrine-disrupting chemicals may affect human reproduction by direct interaction with human sperm," Professor Skakkebaek said.

"关于可以使内分泌紊乱的化学物质如何直接作用于精细胞,从而影响人类的繁衍,我们找到了一种全新的途径。"Skakkebaek教授说。

Relatively low concentrations of the chemicals – which previously were thought to be too low to cause an effect – triggered the catsper reaction in test-tube studies.

之前被认为影响微乎其微的相对浓度较低的化学物质,仍然能在试管中触发镜子阳离子通道反应。

"In human body fluids, one does not find one of a few particular chemicals, but rather complex chemical cocktails with many different endocrine-disrupting chemicals at very low concentrations. We tried to mimic this situation in our experiments," Dr Strünker said. "When mixed together the cocktail, despite the extremely low concentration of its ingredients, evoked large and sizeable responses in sperm. Thus, in complex mixtures [the chemicals] co-operate to interfere with sperm function. This has not been shown before."

"在人体内循环中,两种不同的化学物质并不能那么精确的在一起反应,但许许多多种不同的可以使内分泌紊乱的物质混合起来形成鸡尾酒效应就不一样了,我们试图在试验中模拟这个过程"Strünker博士说。"当混合成一定比例后,即使单种化学物质的浓度再低,对精细胞的影响也会增大, 从而综合起来影响精细胞的功能,这一点刚刚被发现。"

People ingest these chemicals every day either by consuming food and drink contaminated with them or by absorbing them through the skin in personal-care products such as sunscreens and soaps.

人们每天都在接触这些化学品,不管是直接吃或者喝下被污染过的饮食,或者在日常护理中,比如使用防晒油和肥皂时,从皮肤直接吸收。

Professor Richard Sharpe, a senior scientist at the Medical Research Council Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh, said: "This study appears to open up a new dimension of potential effects of common lifestyle or environmental chemicals on male fertility."

爱丁堡的医学研究委员会生殖部门的资深科学家Richard Sharpe教授说:"这项研究将为我们打开一扇新的大门, 揭示日常生活习惯对人类不育的影响。"