Atrazine is the most commonly used herbicide in the U.S. and a wide-spread groundwater contaminant. Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence exists that atrazine disrupts reproductive health and hormone secretion. We examined the relationship between exposure to atrazine in drinking water and menstrual cycle function including reproductive hormone levels. Women 18-40 years old residing in agricultural communities where atrazine is used extensively (Illinois) and sparingly (Vermont) answered a questionnaire (n=102), maintained menstrual cycle diaries (n=67), and provided daily urine samples for analyses of luteinizing hormone (LH), and estradiol and progesterone metabolites (n=35). Markers of exposures included state of residence, atrazine and chlorotriazine concentrations in tap water, municipal water and urine, and estimated dose from water consumption. Women who lived in Illinois were more likely to report menstrual cycle length irregularity (odds ratio (OR)=4.69; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.58-13.95) and more than 6 weeks between periods (OR=6.16; 95% CI: 1.29-29.38) than those who lived in Vermont. Consumption of >2 cups of unfiltered Illinois water daily was associated with increased risk of irregular periods (OR=5.73; 95% CI: 1.58-20.77). Estimated "dose" of atrazine and chlorotriazine from tap water was inversely related to mean mid-luteal estradiol metabolite. Atrazine "dose" from municipal concentrations was directly related to follicular phase length and inversely related to mean mid-luteal progesterone metabolite levels. We present preliminary evidence that atrazine exposure, at levels below the US EPA MCL, is associated with increased menstrual cycle irregularity, longer follicular phases, and decreased levels of menstrual cycle endocrine biomarkers of infertile ovulatory cycles.
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