Endocrine disruptors (EDs) and hormone-dependent cancers: Correlation or causal relationship?

The selective increase in the incidence of hormone-dependent cancers (breast, prostate, testicular) in industrialized countries is associated with the increasing number of endocrine disruptors (EDs) in the environment and raises questions about the role of EDs in mammary carcinogenesis. Answering these questions is difficult because the number of EDs is large and varies with time. Moreover hormonal carcinogenesis is multifactorial and progresses slowly and in stages. This discussion will be limited to breast cancer and three EDs: distilbene, bisphenol A (BPA), and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). All these three EDs bind estrogen receptors, albeit with widely different affinities. Several complementary approaches have been used: French cancer records, epidemiological studies on cohorts followed over several decades, numerous in vitro experimental studies using cell cultures and in vivo animal studies. These approaches all converge to the same result, strongly suggesting a causal relationship between EDs and precancerous lesions. Except for distilbene, the mechanisms and molecular targets involved are still unclear, which makes it difficult to look for substitute products that are just as efficient, but less toxic.

Comptes rendus biologies. 0000 Jan [Epub]

Henri Rochefort

Académie nationale de médecine, Inserm, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France. Electronic address: .