August 23, 2005

Testicular Cancer Risk Linked to Mothers’ Weight

NEW YORK -- Pregnant women's weight is apparently associated with the subsequent risk of testicular cancer in male offspring once they become adults, according to a Scandinavian study.

Higher maternal weight leads to higher levels of estrogens, which can be transferred from mother to fetus via the placenta.

"Increased fetal exposure to estrogen during the first trimester of pregnancy has been proposed as a risk factor for the development of testicular cancer later in life," Dr. Tom Grotmol, of the Cancer Registry of Norway, in Oslo, and colleagues explain in the International Journal of Cancer.

To investigate this possibility, the researchers compared data for a random sample of women giving birth in Oslo between 1931 and 1955 to the incidence of testicular cancer among men born in Norway during the same time period.

All 1790 testicular cancer cases in men born in Norway between 1931 and 1955 and diagnosed at 21 to 45 years of age were included in the study.

Apart from a transient decline in maternal weight between the World War II years (1941-1945), maternal weight increased over the study period.

A correlation was observed between the incidence of testicular cancer and increased average maternal weight, after adjustment for birth weight and maternal age, the researchers report.

They stress that these observations are indirect and require confirmation in a study comparing testicular cancer cases to men without cancer.

However, the findings "further support the notion that testicular cancer is an example of a 'civilization disease' associated with a Westernized lifestyle with increase in obesity, obesity-associated cancer forms and diabetes type 2."

SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, August 20, 2005.