Mohawk women the focus of study on PCB & lead

HEALTH INITIATIVE: Participants sought for research on effects of pollutants PCB, lead

Watertown Daily News

By LORI SHULL
TIMES STAFF WRITER
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2009

HOGANSBURG — The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe is looking for women to participate in a reproductive health study.

The study, being conducted by tribal Health Services and SUNY Albany’s Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities, is looking to see if polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and lead have any effect on Akwesasne women.

“We live on and near a site that’s been known to contain PCBs and we need to have that looked at,” said Health Director Debra A. Martin. “The end result is we go through the five years and hopefully, at the end, we’ll have some more information.”

The study will monitor approximately 180 women between 20 and 35 years old over four years through one menstrual cycle, taking daily records of hormone levels. It will track about 40 different women a year, with the fifth year dedicated to compiling and analyzing results, according to principal investigator and center director Lawrence M. Schell, who has a doctorate in biological anthropology.

The center was recently awarded a $6.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct three studies, one of which is at Akwesasne. The study on the reservation, however, is being funded with “a third of a quarter of this grant,” Mr. Schell said. That works out to approximately $570,000.

The tribe and the center have collaborated on similar studies for more than a decade. One that was conducted several years ago on the thyroid gland and hormone levels suggested that this study should be done, according to Mr. Schell.

Some PCBs act like estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, and elevated levels of it can result in girls getting their menstrual cycle earlier than usual. Elevated levels of lead can delay it, however. Higher levels of some hormones can stop ovulation, while others can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.

What the study itself will show is uncertain and will remain so until the data have been collected.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.