Interactions between hormones and chemicals in breast cancer.
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Development of breast cancer in women is dependent on diverse factors, including genetic predisposition, exposure to both exogenous and endogenous chemicals, which can modulate initiation, promotion and progression of this disease, and the timing of exposure to these agents. Several compounds--including 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone (16 alpha-OHE1), catecholestrogens, and aromatic amines--have been proposed as initiators of mammary carcinogenesis in humans; however, their role as genotoxins is unconfirmed. Lifetime exposure to estrogens has been established as an important risk factor for breast cancer, and it has been suggested that xenoestrogens may directly add to the hormonal risk or indirectly increase risk by decreasing 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE1)/16 alpha-OHE1 metabolite ratios. Results of recent studies suggest that chemical-induced modulation of 2-OHE1/16 alpha-OHE1 metabolite ratios is not predictive of xenoestrogens or mammary carcinogens. Moreover, based on current known dietary intakes of natural and xenoestrogenic/antiestrogenic chemicals, it is unlikely that xenoestrogens contribute significantly to a woman's overall lifetime exposure to estrogens. More information is required on the identities and serum levels of both natural and xenoendocrine active compounds, their concentrations in serum, and the mammary gland and levels of these compounds at critical periods of exposure.