Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Men's Health

Font Size

Cancer Risk Lingers for Long-Banned DDT

Study Shows Link Between the Pesticide and Testicular Cancer
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 29, 2008 -- Men exposed to the lingering remnants of the once widely used pesticide DDT have an increased risk for the most common form of testicular cancer.

Scientists reporting in the April 29 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute have found that men with the highest blood levels of DDE (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene), a DDT byproduct, were 1.7 times more likely to develop testicular germ cell tumors than those who had the lowest levels.

DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) is a synthetic bug killer known as an organochlorine pesticide. It was developed during the 1940s to kill mosquitos and prevent insect-borne diseases such as malaria. Farmers later sprayed it on crops to control insects.

The U.S. banned DDT in 1972 because of potential health risks. However, the chemical and its breakdown products, or metabolites, can persist in the environment for many years.

Studies have linked persistent exposure to DDT and similar pesticides to various health risks, including reproductive damage and cancer. But the findings regarding testicular cancer have not been replicated in an independent data set.

For the current study, Katherine McGlynn, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues evaluated the relationship between organochlorine pesticide exposure and a man's risk of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs). Germs cells are the cells that produce sperm. The majority of testicular cancers arise from these cells. The rate of TGCTs in the U.S. has been increasing for at least 30 years, since about the time DDT was banned.

McGlynn's team measured the amount of pesticides or their breakdown products in blood samples from healthy men and those who were later diagnosed with TGCTs. The men donated the blood about 14 years earlier as part of the U.S. Servicemen's Testicular Tumor Environmental and Endocrine Determinants study.

The researchers divided the men into groups based on the level of a particular pesticide in their blood and found that the highest levels of DDE were associated with an increased chance of developing testicular cancer compared with those with the lowest levels.

"If the relative risks calculated in this study are accurate ... the proportion of disease in the study population that is attributable to DDE exposure ... would be approximately 15 percent for all [testicular germ cell tumors]," the authors write.

Today on WebMD

man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore.
man swinging in hammock
And how to get out it.
shaving tools
On your shaving skills.
muscular man flexing
Four facts that matter.
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Man taking blood pressure
doctor holding syringe
Condom Quiz
man running
older couple in bed