Ensuring Life, Health and Prosperity for Future Generations

Study links testicular cancer to DDT

May 6, 2008 Kakaire Kirunda (Monitor) Kampala

As the use of DDT to fight mosquitoes spreading Malaria in Uganda begins to take shape, it is emerging that men born to mothers exposed to lingering amounts of the pesticide might have an increased risk of getting testicular cancer.

This is according to a study published last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, in the USA. The cancer that affects young men in their 20s and 30s is said to be on the increase around the world.

“Because evidence suggests that testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) are initiated very early in life, it is possible that exposure to these persistent organic pesticides during fetal life or via breast feeding may increase the risk of TGCT in young men,” the findings read in part.

Researchers examined blood samples from 739 men in the U.S. military who had testicular cancer and 915 men who did not. They found that men with the highest levels of DDE (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene), which is created when the environment or body breaks down DDT, were 70 per cent more likely to develop testicular cancer than those who had the lowest levels of DDE.

In the early years of World War II, DDT was used with great effect to control mosquitoes spreading malaria, typhus, and other insect-borne diseases among both military and civilian populations.

As a result of their findings, the researchers want further examination of the association of pesticides such as DDT with testicular cancer in other populations, particularly given that more widespread use is being considered in the developing world.

Usage of DDT was condemned by environmentalists leading to its ban. But in Uganda, following approval from the National Environmental Management Authority, the government has reintroduced the chemical and spraying has kicked off in two northern districts of Apac and Oyam. Where it is being employed, usage of the chemical is under strict World Health Organisation guidelines.

Debate still rages over the human toll caused by the deadly malaria parasite and DDT’s potential long-term harm to people’s health and the environment.

Activists against the chemical argue that there are several alternatives that can be used to control malaria. But the government insists that internal residue spraying using DDT is the most cost effective malaria control method. Malaria kills more than 100,000 Ugandans, most of them children, every year.

For a reaction on the study findings, the State Minister for Health [General Duties] Dr Richard Nduhuura referred this writer to the Director General of Health Services Dr Sam Zaramba, who comments on technical issues on behalf of the ministry.

But on all the three occasions that we tried to reach him yesterday he said he was too busy to talk to us. However at last year’s East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA) Health Ministers’ Conference in Arusha, where Dr Nduhuura represented Uganda, the use of DDT got a blessing with delegates concurring that the chemical’s public health benefits far out weighed the environmental fears.

Similarly, responding to a question on the subject matter posed to him by this writer last year, Dr Yesim Tozan, a research associate with Fogarty International Center under the US’ National Institutes of Health said the risks to public health by deployment of DDT or other insecticides must be carefully weighed against the benefits, in this case the prevention of malaria.

He however, observed that “the possible adverse consequences of human exposure to DDT cannot be ignored, even with limited evidence, and merit further study.”



  kathy wrote @

Thanks so much for putting out the unvarnished story and articles that most of us in the US never hear.

We must stand together for the world’s unheard peoples or at least put out articles so people can make up their own minds.

Plus, today I learned in New Vision, Uganda, that the Uganda’s environmental agency is selling off wetlands to rich investors. This is the same agency that oked DDT spraying…and was involved in the environmental study.

Malaria No More Campaign in the US says the 4 dollar cost of indoor residential spraying uses and uses the words environmentally friendly spray in its presentation and pdf.

I guess that is because DDT is not supposed to be sprayed directly into the environment and is supposed to be done with trained sprayers, and the people are supposed to be warned and remove all their food stuffs and water containers, and on and on. And the structures are supposed to be permanent, not like in those horrible concentration type camps that are supposed to be temporary…(ddt will remain in the area, long after people move back to their original homes).

  readably wrote @

Readably says : I absolutely agree with this !

  againseminoma wrote @

How do I get tested for DDE? I’ve got testicular cancer.

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