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Med Hypotheses. 2009 Jun;72(6):652-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2008.10.025. Epub 2009 Jan 19.

Xenoestrogens may be the cause of high and increasing rates of hormone receptor positive breast cancer in the world.

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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, 109 Observatory Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Breast cancer rates are higher in the Western or industrialized world when compared to Africa or Asia. Within the developing world, breast cancer rates are higher in urban areas where people have a more Westernized lifestyle. In addition, there has been a steady increase in the breast cancer incidence across the world. It is already a known fact that the proportion of hormone receptor positive breast cancer cases is higher in the developed world. Evidence from developed countries also shows that most of the increase in breast cancer incidence has been due to an increase in hormone receptor positive breast cancer. Most of the breast cancer incidence can be explained by environmental factors and genetic causes. However, all known risk factors of breast cancer can explain only 30-50% of breast cancer incidence. In the past decade, a number of compounds that affect female hormone homeostasis have been discovered. These xenoestrogens have been shown to cause breast cancer and also induce the expression of hormone receptors in vitro and in vivo. Given the high use of substances containing xenoestrogens in developed regions of the world and their increasing use in urban parts of the developing world, xenoestrogens could be the important cause of high and increasing rates of hormone receptor positive breast cancer across the world. New research in the area of mammary stem cells provides added indication of the probable time period of exposure to xenoestrogens with chronic exposure later in life leading to hormone receptor positive breast cancer and most probable reason behind increasing breast cancer incidence.

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