Correlation Analysis of Cocoa Consumption Data with Worldwide Incidence Rates of Testicular Cancer and Hypospadias

Industrial and Environmental Hygiene Unit, Department of Animal and Human Biology, University "Sapienza", Rome, Italy.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.06). 03/2009; 6(2):568-78. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph6020578
Source: PubMed


The underlying reasons for the increasing occurrence of male reproductive diseases (MRD) such as hypospadias, cryptorchidism, and testicular cancer (TC) over the last decades are still unknown. It has been hypothesized that the risk of MRD is determined in utero and that pregnancy dietary intake could also affect MRD risk in the offspring. Various studies in animals reported that cocoa and theobromine, the main stimulant of cocoa, exert toxic effects on the testis, inducing testicular atrophy and impaired sperm quality. A correlation analysis was conducted to examine the possible role of cocoa consumption on the occurrence of selected MRD during the prenatal and early life period of cases. The incidence rates between 1998-2002 of TC in 18 countries obtained from Cancer Incidence in Five Continents were correlated with the average per-capita consumption of cocoa (kg/capita/year) (FAOSTAT-Database) in these countries from 1965 to 1980, i.e. the period corresponding to the early life of TC cases. In order to test the above correlation in the case of hypospadias, the mean prevalence at birth in 20 countries (1999-2003) with average per-capita consumption of cocoa in these countries in the same period corresponding to pregnancy were used. The consumption of cocoa in the period 1965-80, was most closely correlated with the incidence of TC in young adults (r=0.859; p<0.001). An analogous significant correlation was also observed between early cocoa consumption and the prevalence rates of hypospadias in the period 1999-2003 (r=0.760; p<0.001). Although the ecological approach used in this study cannot provide an answer on the causal relationship between consumption of cocoa in early life and TC and hypospadias, the results are suggestive and indicate the need of further analytic studies to investigate the role of individual exposure to cocoa, particularly during the prenatal and in early life of the patients.

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Available from: Fabrizio Giannandrea
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    • "Current literature suggests that there is controversy on whether or not the consumption of all flavonoids during pregnancy is safe or detrimental to developmental processes. Some of these reports come from observations of impaired fetal development (heart, genitourinary and limb anomalies), impaired absorption and metabolism of other nutrients, and persistent lasting effects such as increased risk of early onset of diseases (for example acute childhood leukemia) [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32]. While the above studies supplemented diets with flavonoid-rich foods or flavonoid preparations, there have been few studies investigating the effects of the chronic consumption of specific flavonoids during pregnancy. "
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    ABSTRACT: Maternal nutrition can have a significant effect on developmental processes during pregnancy and lactation. While certain flavonoids have been postulated to be beneficial for health, little is known about the effects of ingestion during pregnancy and lactation on the mother and progeny. We report on the effects of maternal consumption of high levels of certain flavonoids on reproductive and developmental outcomes in a mouse model. C57BL/6J female mice were fed a control diet (CT), the CT diet supplemented with 1% or 2% of a mix of epicatechin and catechin (EC1, EC2), or rutin (RU1, RU2) prior to, during pregnancy, and lactation. A subset of dams was killed on gestation day (GD) 18.5 to evaluate fetal outcomes and the remainder was allowed to deliver to evaluate offspring. Maternal food intake, body and tissue weight did not differ among groups. The number of resorptions, implantations, litter size, postnatal survival, body weight, and skeletal development were also similar. Alterations in maternal and offspring liver mineral concentrations were observed. The current results indicate that consumption of high amounts of epicatechin, catechin, and rutin during gestation and lactation is not associated with any marked developmental effects, although changes in liver mineral concentrations were noted.
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    • "Though differences in genetic backgrounds among Scandinavian and southern European populations exist, these preliminary findings imply that possible postnatal exposures may play an important role in determining risk of TC. As adult height is largely determined during the first 2 years of life, it may be postulated that high calorie nutrition after birth could have a role in TC pathogenesis (Frankel et al., 1998; McGlynn et al., 2007; Giannandrea, 2009). In addition, as final adult height is strongly dependent on testis sex-steroids (Veldhuis et al., 2005) a correlation between height and TC risk may suggest that androgen secretion during puberty might be involved in TC progression. "
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