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Br J Cancer. 2005 May 9;92(9):1787-93.

Maternal hormone levels among populations at high and low risk of testicular germ cell cancer.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, DHHS, 6120 Executive Blvd., EPS-7060, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.


Ethnic differences in maternal oestrogen levels have been suggested as explaining the significantly higher risk of testicular germ cell tumours (TGCT) of white men than black men in the United States. We therefore examined levels of maternal oestrogens, as well as testosterone and alphafetoprotein (AFP), in 150 black and 150 white mothers in the Collaborative Perinatal Project. Serum levels of estradiol (total, free and bioavailable), estriol, testosterone (total, free and bioavailable), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and AFP were examined during first and third trimesters. We found that the black mothers, rather than the white mothers, had significantly higher estradiol levels in first trimester (P=0.05). Black mothers also had significantly higher levels of all testosterone (P<0.001) and AFP (P<0.001) in both trimesters. In addition, the ratios of sex hormones (estradiol/testosterone) were significantly lower among black mothers. These findings provide little support to the oestrogen hypothesis, but are consistent with higher levels of testosterones and/or AFP being associated with reduced risk of TGCT; alternatively, lower oestrogen/androgen ratios may be associated with reduced risk.

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