Endocrine Disruptors and Cancer: From Genotoxicity Mechanisms to Ethnicity-related Susceptibility
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been measured widely in human tissues and are increasingly implicated in adverse effects on human health, including development of cancer. This review focuses on recent reports of genotoxic effects of EDCs and ethnic differences in sensitivity to EDC exposures. The ability of EDCs to influence the incidence of cancers in hormone-sensitive reproductive tissues has been reported for many years, but a broader involvement in all cancers is emerging. Whilst EDCs are accepted to act through physiological intracellular receptors to disrupt receptor-mediated gene expression, the genotoxicity of EDCs is increasingly being reported through not only direct DNA damage to the genome but also through epigenomic and non-genomic mechanisms. Furthermore, evidence is emerging for epigenetic alterations following prenatal EDC exposures with consequences for adult life and onward transgenerational transmission. Ethnic differences in the outcome of responses to EDCs are also being reported, most notably in relation to breast and prostate cancer incidence in Afro-American compared with Caucasian populations in the USA. These emerging areas of research need to be incorporated into understanding of the overall consequences of human exposure to EDCs.