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Publication Abstract

Authors: Troisi R, Potischman N, Hoover RN

Title: Exploring the underlying hormonal mechanisms of prenatal risk factors for breast cancer: a review and commentary.

Journal: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 16(9):1700-12

Date: 2007 Sep

Abstract: Prenatal factors have been hypothesized to influence subsequent breast cancer development. Directly evaluating the associations of in utero exposures with risk, however, presents several methodologic and theoretical challenges, including the long induction period between exposure and disease and the lack of certainty regarding the critical timing of exposure. Indirect evaluation of these associations has been achieved by use of proxies such as gestational and neonatal characteristics. Evidence suggests that preeclampsia is associated with a reduced breast cancer risk, whereas high birth weight and dizygotic twinning seem associated with an increased risk. Asians born in Asia have substantially lower breast cancer risks than women born in the West. Although data thus far are few, what exists is not consistent with a unifying hypothesis for a particular biological exposure (such as estrogens or androgens) during pregnancy as mediating the observed associations between pregnancy factors and breast cancer risk. This suggests that additional studies of prenatal factors should seek to broaden the range of hormones, growth, and other endocrine factors that are evaluated in utero. Once candidate biomarkers are identified, assessing them with respect to breast cancer and with intermediate end points in carcinogenesis should be a priority. In addition, investigations should explore the possibility that in utero exposures may not act directly on the breast, but may alter other physiologic pathways such as hormone metabolism that have their effect on risk later in life.

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2013