Genetic defects in sperm caused by exposure to environmental toxins can be passed down through generations, says a University of Idaho study.
Researchers exposed embryonic male rats to a hormone-disrupting fungicide called vinclozolin and found that the chemical altered genes in the sperm, including some associated with human prostate cancer.
The rats exposed to the fungicide showed evidence of prostate damage, infertility and kidney problems. The genetic defects in sperm continued through four generations of the rats' descendents.
'Toxin-related defects passed on'
The researchers acknowledged that the embryonic rats were exposed to extremely high levels of the fungicide, but said that their work shows toxin-related defects in sperm can be passed down through many generations, BBC News reported.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Heavy smoking and drinking may cause sperm damage and this study shows that men should be aware that they could pass that damage along to their heirs, experts said.
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