Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fetal exposure to radiation increases risk of testicular cancer

Date:
February 13, 2012
Source:
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Summary:
Male fetuses of mothers that are exposed to radiation during early pregnancy may have an increased chance of developing testicular cancer, according to a new study in mice.

Male fetuses of mothers that are exposed to radiation during early pregnancy may have an increased chance of developing testicular cancer, according to a study in mice at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The article was recently published in PLoS ONE.

The study is the first to find an environmental cause for testicular germ cell tumors, the most common cancer in young Caucasian men.

"This discovery launches a major shift in the current research model, placing DNA-damaging agents in the forefront as likely mediators of testicular cancer induction," said corresponding author Gunapala Shetty, Ph.D., assistant professor in MD Anderson's Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology.

Increasing incidence, few answers

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 8,500 new cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. During the past 50 years, the incidence has tripled in young Caucasian men throughout the world.

"This increase and the characteristics of germ cell tumors strongly suggest that fetal exposure to an environmental agent is responsible," Shetty said. "However, the identification of any agent producing increases in testicular cancer has eluded scientists."

Endocrine disruptors, chemicals that alter the endocrine -- or hormonal -- system, have been widely suggested as the cause of testicular cancer, but there has been no proof. Fetuses are especially vulnerable to even small amounts of the substances, which are known to cause developmental and cognitive issues.

Radiation induces cancer, 2 endocrine disrupters don't

This study began as an examination of endocrine disruptors as a possible cause of testicular cancer. Researchers separately tested two such substances, the estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) and the antiandrogen flutamide.

The endocrine disruptors were introduced into a mouse strain with a high spontaneous incidence of testicular cancer, which should make them more sensitive to cancer caused by environmental agents. But the results showed no increase in testicular cancer.

However, when researchers gave modest doses of radiation, which is a DNA-damaging agent, to female mice in the middle of their pregnancies, all the male offspring developed testicular cancer, compared to 45 percent of mice not exposed to radiation. In addition, the tumors were more aggressive and had more sites of origin.

Next steps

This study suggests that DNA-damaging agents, rather than endocrine disruptors, should be examined as a factor in the increased prevalence of testicular cancer.

"Although radiation exposure of pregnant females has been declining and is unlikely to be responsible for this increase, we intend to follow this up with studies of DNA-damaging chemicals found in cigarette smoke and air pollution, to which exposures of pregnant women have been increasing," said study senior author Marvin Meistrich, Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson's Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology.

This study opens the door to possibilities for wide-ranging investigation, and researchers agree much work remains to be done.

"A second class of DNA-damaging agents that we intend to study is chemotherapy drugs like cyclophosphamide, which are used to treat pregnant women with breast cancer," Shetty said. "Studies at MD Anderson of the children of these women did not show increases in birth or developmental defects. However, we need to test these agents in our animal model since testicular cancer usually does not appear until early adulthood."

Other MD Anderson researchers on the team included Paul Comish and Connie Weng, Ph.D., of the Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology and Angabin Matin, Ph.D., of the Department of Genetics.

Funding for this research was provided by Florence M. Thomas Professorship in Cancer Research held by Meistrich and MD Anderson's Cancer Center Support Grant from the National Cancer Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gunapala Shetty, Paul B. Comish, Connie C. Y. Weng, Angabin Matin, Marvin L. Meistrich. Fetal Radiation Exposure Induces Testicular Cancer in Genetically Susceptible Mice. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (2): e32064 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032064

Cite This Page:

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Fetal exposure to radiation increases risk of testicular cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213185113.htm>.
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. (2012, February 13). Fetal exposure to radiation increases risk of testicular cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213185113.htm
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Fetal exposure to radiation increases risk of testicular cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213185113.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Herman Goldman has worked at the same lighting store for almost 75 years. Find out his secrets to a happy, productive life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who contracted Ebola, is apparently getting better, according to her husband. The outbreak, however, is not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins