Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 38, Issue 7, pp 745–752 | Cite as

Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and hexachlorobenzene, semen quality and testicular cancer risk

  • D. Paoli
  • F. Giannandrea
  • M. Gallo
  • R. Turci
  • M. S. Cattaruzza
  • F. Lombardo
  • A. Lenzi
  • L. GandiniEmail author
Original Article



We carried out a case–control study to investigate the possible role of occupational and environmental exposure to endocrine disruptors in the onset of testicular cancer (TC).


We evaluated 125 TC patients and 103 controls. Seminal fluid examination and organochlorine analysis were performed in all subjects. Cases and controls were also interviewed using a structured questionnaire to collect demographic information, residence, andrological medical history and dietary information.


We found that a higher level of reproductive tract birth defects was associated with a higher risk of TC. With regard to diet, cases reported a higher consumption of milk and dairy products than controls. Overall, there was a statistically significant increase in TC risk in cases with detectable values of total polychlorinated organic compounds against controls (14.4 vs. 1.0 %; p < 0.001). TC patients with detectable levels of organochlorines had lower mean semen parameters than those with undetectable levels, although this difference was not statistically significant.


The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently included dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Group 1 of known human carcinogens. Our study confirmed and identified various risk factors for testicular cancer: cryptorchidism, consumption of milk and dairy products, parents’ occupation and serum concentration of hexachlorobenzene and PCBs and, for the first time, we showed the correlation between semen quality and the serum concentration of these pollutants.


Polychlorinated biphenyls Hexachlorobenzene Testicular cancer Semen quality Environmental exposure 



The authors wish to thank Marie-Hélène Hayles for her assistance in the English translation of the manuscript and Prof. Irene Figà Talamanca for her helpful discussions of the data. This work was supported by a grant from the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR-PRIN) and the University of Rome “La Sapienza” Faculty of Medicine.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Paoli
    • 1
  • F. Giannandrea
    • 1
  • M. Gallo
    • 1
  • R. Turci
    • 2
  • M. S. Cattaruzza
    • 3
  • F. Lombardo
    • 1
  • A. Lenzi
    • 1
  • L. Gandini
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Seminology-Sperm Bank, Department of Experimental MedicineUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  2. 2.Laboratory for Environmental and Toxicological TestingSalvatore Maugeri FoundationPaviaItaly
  3. 3.Department Public Health and Infection Disease“La Sapienza” University of RomeRomeItaly

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