Pollutants altering the endocrine system, known as endocrine disruptors (ED), may modify the risk of female cancers. The carcinogenic effect of ED on humans has been confirmed by experimental studies for various substances including pesticides, DDT, dioxins, phthalates, bisphenol A, diethylstilbestrol, as well as heavy metals, but it is difficult to quantify precisely for several reasons hereby reviewed. Carcinogenesis is a complex and multifactorial mechanism that manifests itself over a long period of time, making difficult the detection of the specific contribution of the pollutants, whose absorbed dose is often unknown. The combined effect of various substances leads to complex interactions whose outcome is difficult to predict. These substances may accumulate and carry out their harmful effect on critical periods of life, probably also at doses considered harmless to an adult. ED can also have epigenetic adverse effects on the health of future generations. In conclusion, the carcinogenic effects of endocrine disruptors on female cancer types is plausible although additional studies are needed to clarify their mechanisms and entities. In the last part of the review we suggest ways to reduce ED exposure as it is mandatory to implement necessary measures to limit exposure, particularly during those periods of life most vulnerable to the impact of oncogenic environmental causes, such as the embryonic period and puberty.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research