Top 23 Hormones

Hormone Health Network infographic: “Essential Guide To Your Hormones”

Hormones play a critical role in our bodies, but what exactly are hormones and why are they important for our health? We’ll decode the body’s most important hormones and explain how changes in hormone levels can affect your body and your well-being.

Perinatal carcinogenesis: growing a node for epidemiology, risk management

Childhood Cancers, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 2004


Perinatal carcinogenesis as a cross-disciplinary concern is the subject of this special issue of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, which consists of a total of eight reviews or commentaries in the areas of epidemiology, risk assessment, and animal models. Some of the conclusions from these articles, and the Questions and Answers section that follows most of them, are summarized here.

There is adequate reason to suspect that perinatal exposures contribute to human cancer risk, both childhood cancers, and those appearing later in life. The latter type of risk may actually be quantitatively the more important, and involve a wide range of types of effects, but has received only limited attention.

Introduction and overview. Perinatal carcinogenesis: growing a node for epidemiology, risk management, and animal studies, Toxicology and applied pharmacology, NCBI PubMed PMID: 15313581, 2004 Sep.

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With regard to childhood cancers, fetal irradiation and diethylstilbestrol exposure are known etiological agents, and it is likely, but not yet certain, there are additional external causes of a portion of these. Some current focal points of interest here include nitroso compounds, DNA topoisomerase inhibitors, viruses, anti-AIDS drugs, and endocrine disruptors.

Regulatory agencies must rely heavily on animal data for estimation of human risk due to perinatal exposures to chemicals, and the quantity and quality of these data presently available for this purpose are greatly limiting. Correctly designed conventional animal studies with suspect chemicals are still needed. Furthermore, genetically engineered mouse models for childhood cancers, especially medulloblastoma, have become available, and could be used for screening of candidate causative agents for this cancer type, and for better understanding of gene-environment interactions.

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Endocrine Glands and Hormones Key Facts

Hormone Health Network infographic: “Essential Guide To Your Hormones”

Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers and are part of the endocrine system. Endocrine glands make hormones, which travel through the bloodstream to tissues and organs, and control most of our body’s major systems. The endocrine system regulates our heart rate, metabolism – how the body gets energy from the foods we eat – appetite, mood, sexual function, reproduction, growth and development, sleep cycles, and more.

Critical windows of exposure for children’s health and agents related to childhood cancer

The carcinogenic effects of both ionizing radiation and DES may be mediated via teratogenesis


In humans, cancer may be caused by genetics and environmental exposures; however, in the majority of instances the identification of the critical time window of exposure is problematic. The evidence for exposures occurring during the preconceptional period that have an association with childhood or adulthood cancers is equivocal.

Agents definitely related to cancer in children, and adulthood if exposure occurs in utero, include: maternal exposure to ionizing radiation during pregnancy and childhood leukemia and certain other cancers, and maternal use of diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy and clear-cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina of their daughters. The list of environmental exposures that occur during the perinatal/postnatal period with potential to increase the risk of cancer is lengthening, but evidence available to date is inconsistent and inconclusive.

Critical windows of exposure for children’s health: cancer in human epidemiological studies and neoplasms in experimental animal models, Environ Health Perspectives, NCBI PubMed PMID: 10852857, 2000 Jun.

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In animal models, preconceptional carcinogenesis has been demonstrated for a variety of types of radiation and chemicals, with demonstrated sensitivity for all stages from fetal gonocytes to postmeiotic germ cells. Transplacental and neonatal carcinogenesis show marked ontogenetic stage specificity in some cases. Mechanistic factors include the number of cells at risk, the rate of cell division, the development of differentiated characteristics including the ability to activate and detoxify carcinogens, the presence of stem cells, and possibly others. Usefulness for human risk estimation would be strengthened by the study of these factors in more than one species, and by a focus on specific human risk issues.


Unlike the situation for preconceptional exposures, there is good evidence that exposure of the human fetus to certain potentially harmful agents can increase the risk of cancer during childhood and possibly during early adulthood. Nonetheless, although numerous potentially harmful agents are suspected including infections, drugs, and maternal lifestyle characteristics the only two generally accepted carcinogenic in utero exposures are ionizing radiation and DES: the former acting directly on the fetus and the latter acting via the placenta.

The strong associations for DES have led researchers to postulate in utero effects for other endogenous and exogenous hormones, particularly for cancers with a suspected hormonal component to their etiology such as breast and testicular cancers. Further, since the birth of the first test-tube baby in 1978 there has been concern about the health of offspring resulting from assisted reproductive technology (ART). Multiple pregnancies often result from ART, which is one of the main determinants of the health of the child at birth. The importance of follow-up studies of these children to assess adverse health outcomes diagnosed after birth, even in adulthood, has been recognized, but few comprehensive and powerful epidemiological studies have been done. Two case reports have highlighted possible increases in cancer incidence in children born as a result of in vitro fertilization, raising concerns about the role of prenatal exposure (before and after conception) to high levels of estrogen and related compounds used for ovarian stimulation. To date, there are limited epidemiological data on this topic; a study of U.K. births after ART failed to find an excess incidence of childhood cancer, but, as noted by the authors, the study was too small to be able to detect a reasonable excess, even if it existed.

With respect to mechanisms and the timing of exposure, it is thought that the carcinogenic effects of both ionizing radiation and DES may be mediated via teratogenesis. This has been documented for DES, which causes various genital tract abnormalities in males as well as in females. In addition, it has been suggested that the exposure of pregnant women to substances that inhibit the function of the topoisomerase II enzymes could be related to the development of acute leukemia in their offspring.

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Your Hormones, Your Body’s Chemical Messengers

The Hormone Health Network is your trusted source for endocrine patient education

Hormones are special chemical messengers in the body that are created in the endocrine glands. These messengers control most major bodily functions, from simple basic needs like hunger to complex systems like reproduction, and even the emotions and mood.

Diethylstilbestrol Exposure and Leukemia, Brain Tumors, Wilms’ tumor

Childhood cancer: overview of incidence trends and environmental carcinogens


An estimated 8000 children 0 to 14 years of age are diagnosed annually with cancer in the United States. Leukemia and brain tumors are the most common childhood malignancies, accounting for 30 and 20% of newly diagnosed cases, respectively.

From 1975 to 1978 to 1987 to 1990, cancer among white children increased slightly from 12.8 to 14.1/100,000. Increases are suggested for leukemia, gliomas, and, to a much lesser extent, Wilms’ tumor.

There are a few well-established environmental causes of childhood cancer such as radiation, chemotherapeutic agents, and diethylstilbestrol.

Childhood cancer: overview of incidence trends and environmental carcinogens, Environ Health Perspectives, NCBI PubMed PMID: 8549470, 1995 Sep.

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Many other agents such as electromagnetic fields, pesticides, and some parental occupational exposures are suspected of playing roles, but the evidence is not conclusive at this time.

Some childhood exposures such as secondhand cigarette smoke may contribute to cancers that develop many years after childhood.

For some exposures such as radiation and pesticides data suggest that children may be more susceptible to the carcinogenic effects than similarly exposed adults.

Diethylstilbestrol exposure and Medications

Transplacental carcinogenesis was established by the discovery in 1971 of vaginal adenocarcinoma in the daughters of women who took the hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy to avoid miscarriages. This very rare cancer has been detected in girls as young as 7 years old, with most affected between 15 and 22 years of age. There are concerns that at older ages the exposed daughters may also have increased risk of squamous carcinomas of the vagina and cervix and cancers of the breast and that exposed sons may have excess testicular and prostate cancer . Continued followup of the DES-exposed daughters and sons is ongoing at the National Cancer Institute and may provide further information on the late effects of DES and on transplacental carcinogenesis in general.

Suspected, but less well-established, of being a transplacental carcinogen is phenytoin, an antiepileptic drug. There are reports of neuroblastoma and soft tissue sarcoma in children exposed in utero to phenytoin.

There have also been reports of excess brain tumors, neuroblastomas, leukemia, and retinoblastomas in children of women who used antinausea medications (e.g., Bendectin) during pregnancy. This issue had received considerable publicity, however, which may have affected recall of use by study subjects. One study used medical records, not subject recall, to assess exposure and did not show any associations.

There is one report of excess Wilms’ tumor among Swedish children whose mothers were exposed to penthrane (methoxyflurane) anesthesia during delivery. The excess risk was higher in females and increased with age at diagnosis.

Some medical treatments received during childhood also play a role in the development of childhood cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy received for an initial childhood cancer can dramatically increase the risk for second cancers. For example, in one study children treated with alkylating agents for cancer have a 5-fold risk of subsequently developing leukemia. At high doses, the risk was increased as much as 25 times the expected rate of leukemia. Bone sarcomas were also elevated in children treated with radiation and chemotherapy.

The potent antibiotic chloramphenicol, given to treat life-threatening infectious conditions, has been linked to excess acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia in children in Shanghai. This association with leukemia is consistent with a report of bone marrow depression following use of chloramphenicol.

Parental use of illegal drugs has been linked to childhood cancer in a few reports. Marijuana use was associated with rhabdomyosarcoma, leukemia, and brain tumors. Cocaine use was also associated with rhabdomyosarcoma.

These exposures are difficult to study accurately and need further research, but prevention efforts clearly must continue for noncancer-related reasons even in the absence of convincing data on childhood cancer.

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Our health care, health system and the pharmaceutical industry

Cartoon by Simon Kneebone, 1985

Cartoon by Simon Kneebone for a 1985 article “DES – the wonder drug you should wonder about“.
As pertinent today as 31 years ago!

Major Endocrine Glands and Important Hormones

The Hormone Health Network is your trusted source for endocrine patient education

Endocrine glands are located throughout various parts of the human body. These glands take on the critical task of releasing hormones, and as a whole, they are most commonly referred to as the endocrine system.

Absolute v. Relative Change : Two Different Ways of Saying the Same Thing

Relative measures tend to exaggerate effects (perception of risk, benefit)

Video published on 12 Sep 2015 by H. Gilbert Welch.

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch explains why the general public has exaggerated perceptions of the health risks they face – as well as exaggerated expectations of the benefit of medical care.

Related information

Les perturbateurs endocriniens en France

Une autre trajectoire


Américaine à l’origine, la problématique des perturbateurs endocriniens (PE) s’est rapidement internationalisée. Ce processus reste cependant largement à comprendre. Pour l’explorer, la piste suivie dans cet article est celle du double mouvement de généralisation et de localisation sous-jacent à cette internationalisation. En s’appuyant sur une recherche comparative États-Unis/France portant sur la façon dont la trajectoire des PE s’inscrit dans une histoire de longue durée de la santé environnementale, l’article analyse ainsi les débuts de la trajectoire française de la problématique PE.

Les évènements pris pour cible sont ceux qui sont intervenus avant 2007, c’est-à-dire bien avant que les PE ne deviennent un objet de controverses visibles dans le dernier tiers des années 2000, avec l’investissement de plus en plus important d’un ensemble hétéroclite d’associations militant sur des problèmes de santé environnementale et la montée en puissance des débats sur le bisphénol A.

Les perturbateurs endocriniens en France. Une autre trajectoire, Sciences sociales et santé, DOI : 10.1684/sss.20160302, 2016/3 (Vol. 34).

Nous remettons en cause l’idée courante selon laquelle l’introduction des PE en France a été le seul fait des milieux médicaux s’intéressant aux problèmes d’infertilité masculine. Nous montrons aussi que ces développements précoces révèlent l’existence d’une phase publiquement “invisible” d’appropriation et de configuration du problème des perturbateurs endocriniens révélatrice d’un régime français d’expertise des problèmes de santé environnementale et de gestion des risques chimiques qui fait largement appel aux collaborations entre l’État, les industriels et les chercheurs académiques.

Ce faisant, l’article analyse les caractéristiques du premier dispositif français d’expertise et de recherche sur les PE et ses spécificités au regard de la trajectoire américaine.