Animal studies suggest that prenatal exposure to the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) causes epigenetic changes that may be transmitted to the next generation. Specifically, these studies show an elevated incidence of reproductive tumors in the female offspring of prenatally-exposed mice.
We assessed cancer and benign pathology diagnoses occurring in the offspring of women whose prenatal exposure to DES (or lack of exposure) was verified by medical record. Our data arose from 2 sources: the mothers' reports of cancers occurring in 8216 sons and daughters, and pathology-confirmed cancers and benign diagnoses self-reported by a subset of 793 daughters.
Although statistical power is limited, our data are consistent with no overall increase of cancer in the sons or daughters of women exposed in utero to DES. Based on pathology-confirmed diagnoses reported by the daughters, we saw no association between DES and risk of benign breast disease or reproductive tract conditions. Based on 3 cases, the incidence of ovarian cancer was higher than expected in the daughters of women exposed prenatally to DES.
Our data do not support an overall increase of cancer risk in the sons or daughters of women exposed prenatally to DES, but the number of ovarian cancer cases was greater than expected. While preliminary, this finding supports continued monitoring of these daughters.
"Moreover, the delayed adverse health effects of exposures occurring during critical windows of vulnerability (e.g., early life, including the prenatal period and puberty) remain largely unknown. One well known exception is in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) which increases the risk of benign and malignant pathology in the third generation . Other agents such as ambient air PAHs and PM2.5 have been shown to influence maturation of the immune system during gestation via shifts in cord blood lymphocytes distributions [9,10]. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Development of graphical/visual presentations of cancer etiology caused by environmental stressors is a process that requires combining the complex biological interactions between xenobiotics in living and occupational environment with genes (gene-environment interaction) and genomic and non-genomic based disease specific mechanisms in living organisms. Traditionally, presentation of causal relationships includes the statistical association between exposure to one xenobiotic and the disease corrected for the effect of potential confounders.
Within the FP6 project HENVINET, we aimed at considering together all known agents and mechanisms involved in development of selected cancer types. Selection of cancer types for causal diagrams was based on the corpus of available data and reported relative risk (RR). In constructing causal diagrams the complexity of the interactions between xenobiotics was considered a priority in the interpretation of cancer risk. Additionally, gene-environment interactions were incorporated such as polymorphisms in genes for repair and for phase I and II enzymes involved in metabolism of xenobiotics and their elimination. Information on possible age or gender susceptibility is also included. Diagrams are user friendly thanks to multistep access to information packages and the possibility of referring to related literature and a glossary of terms. Diagrams cover both chemical and physical agents (ionizing and non-ionizing radiation) and provide basic information on the strength of the association between type of exposure and cancer risk reported by human studies and supported by mechanistic studies. Causal diagrams developed within HENVINET project represent a valuable source of information for professionals working in the field of environmental health and epidemiology, and as educational material for students.
Cancer risk results from a complex interaction of environmental exposures with inherited gene polymorphisms, genetic burden collected during development and non genomic capacity of response to environmental insults. In order to adopt effective preventive measures and the associated regulatory actions, a comprehensive investigation of cancer etiology is crucial. Variations and fluctuations of cancer incidence in human populations do not necessarily reflect environmental pollution policies or population distribution of polymorphisms of genes known to be associated with increased cancer risk. Tools which may be used in such a comprehensive research, including molecular biology applied to field studies, require a methodological shift from the reductionism that has been used until recently as a basic axiom in interpretation of data. The complexity of the interactions between cells, genes and the environment, i.e. the resonance of the living matter with the environment, can be synthesized by systems biology. Within the HENVINET project such philosophy was followed in order to develop interactive causal diagrams for the investigation of cancers with possible etiology in environmental exposure.
Causal diagrams represent integrated knowledge and seed tool for their future development and development of similar diagrams for other environmentally related diseases such as asthma or sterility. In this paper development and application of causal diagrams for cancer are presented and discussed.
"The benign and carcinogenic effects of prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a potent synthetic estrogen used to prevent miscarriage in the late 1940s through the 1970s, is an example of the harmful effects that estrogenic chemicals can cause during development, many of which are not apparent until much later in adult life. Although the use of DES during pregnancy was discontinued > 30 years ago, we are still reminded of this chemical's legacy as the DES-exposed offspring age and their health care problems continue to mount [National Institutes of Health (NIH) 1999; Palmlund 1996] including the possibility of adverse effects on subsequent generations (Blatt et al. 2003; Newbold 2004; Titus-Ernstoff et al. 2008). Unfortunately, developing fetuses and young children continue to be inadvertently exposed to a wide number of environmental chemicals, many with hormone-like activity. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals during critical developmental periods causes adverse consequences later in life; an example is prenatal exposure to the pharmaceutical diethylstilbestrol (DES). Bisphenol A (BPA), an environmental estrogen used in the synthesis of plastics, is of concern because its chemical structure resembles that of DES, and it is a "high-volume production" chemical with widespread human exposure.
In this study we investigated whether prenatal BPA causes long-term adverse effects in female reproductive tissues in an experimental animal model previously shown useful in studying effects of prenatal DES.
Timed pregnant CD-1 mice were treated on days 9-16 of gestation with BPA (0.1, 1, 10, 100, or 1,000 mug/kg/day). After delivery, pups were held for 18 months; reproductive tissues were then evaluated.
Ovarian cysts were significantly increased in the 1-mug/kg BPA group; ovarian cyst-adenomas were seen in the other three BPA-treated groups but not in corn-oil controls. We observed increased progressive proliferative lesions of the oviduct after BPA treatment, similar to those described in response to DES. Further, although not statistically different from the controls, prominent mesonephric (Wolffian) remnants and squamous metaplasia of the uterus, as well as vaginal adenosis, were present in BPA-treated mice, similar to lesions reported following DES treatment. More severe pathologies observed in some BPA-treated animals included atypical hyperplasia and stromal polyps of the uterus; sarcoma of the uterine cervix; and mammary adenocarcinoma. We did not observe these lesions in controls.
These data suggest that BPA causes long-term adverse reproductive and carcinogenic effects if exposure occurs during critical periods of differentiation.
Environmental Health Perspectives 07/2009; 117(6):879-85. DOI:10.1289/ehp.0800045 · 7.98 Impact Factor
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