Précis: In utero estrogen exposure is linked to testicular germ-cell cancer
The causes of testicular cancer are unknown, but both genetic and environmental factors probably play a role. Some studies suggested that estrogen level during gestation might have an impact on the development of testicular cancer (International Journal of Cancer 1998 Oct 5;78(2):140-3). In this study, the researchers examined the association of maternal hormone exposure and risk of testicular germ-cell cancer.
The investigators interviewed more than 500 men with testicular cancer and 346 of their mothers, as well as nearly 1,000 matched controls and half of their mothers.
Exposure to exogenous hormones, preterm birth and first birth to a young mother were associated with an increased risk of testicular cancer.
Maternal smoking during pregnancy, which is believed to have an "anti-estrogen" effect, was associated with a decreased risk of cancer.
Bleeding or threatened miscarriage was associated with a reduced risk of cancer.
In spite of remarkable improvements in cure rates, testicular cancer remains a serious disease that calls for identification of causes. In this study, prenatal exposure to maternal hormones, especially estrogen, appeared to be associated with subsequent risk of developing testicular germ-cell cancer. The etiology of testicular cancer is believed to be multifactorial. Further investigation is warranted to identify other potential risk factors.