Diabetes drug metformin linked with intersex freshwater fish
As the rate of diabetes skyrockets in the United States, so too are prescriptions for the drugs that treat the blood sugar disorder. One of the most common Type II diabetes medication is metformin.
But metformin isn't just being found on pharmacy shelves and private medicine cabinets. It's also increasingly showing up in freshwater systems. Now, new research suggests it could be to blame for intersex fish.
Rebecca Klaper, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has been looking to the drug's prevalence in watersheds, as well as exploring its potential effects on wildlife.
"It is the chemical we found in almost every sample and in the highest concentrations compared to other emerging contaminants -- even higher than caffeine," she said in a recent press release.
Fish expressing combinations of male and female sex organs are increasingly common in waters downstream from water treatment plants. The phenomenon has mostly been blamed on hormone-related drugs like birth control and beauty products such as acne medicine.