Prenatal and perinatal risk factors for testicular cancer

Cancer research, Clinical and Epidemiological Investigations, 1986


In an attempt to determine the risk factors responsible for the dramatic increases in testicular cancer incidence in young adults, mothers of testicular cancer cases and controls were questioned about in utero exposures, pregnancy-related conditions, and perinatal factors during their pregnancies with the 202 cases and the 206 controls.

  • The strongest risk factor was low birth weight with a greater than 12-fold risk (confidence interval = 2.8 to 78.1) for subjects weighing 5 lb or less at birth compared to those who weighed over 5 lb.
  • A statistically significant 2-fold increase in risk was associated with unusual bleeding or spotting during pregnancy, regardless of whether medication was taken for this condition.
  • Other exposures during pregnancy associated with a statistically significant increase in risk were:
    • use of “sedatives”;
    • alcohol consumption;
    • and exposure to X-rays.
  • No excess risk was associated with the use of hormones during pregnancy.

The findings for birth weight and abnormal uterine bleeding suggest that significant compromise of the normal maternal-fetal environment may be associated with subsequent increase in risk of testicular cancer. However, this increase in risk is not great enough to explain the dramatic increases in testicular cancer that have occurred in young adults.


  • Prenatal and perinatal risk factors for testicular cancer, Cancer research, NCBI PubMed, PMID: 3731127, 1986 Sep.
  • Featured image credit patioyarddesign.

2 Replies to “Prenatal and perinatal risk factors for testicular cancer”

  1. They claim there’s no link to pregnancy hormone use, however I downloaded the full paper, and this is what it said:

    “The following questions were asked to obtain information on the use of female hormones during pregnancy:

    • (a) did your physician determine you were pregnant by administering pills or shots to see if you would have a menstrual period?
    • (b) do you recall ever taking diethylstilbestrol (DES), estrogen, premarin, or any other female hormone?
    • (c) do you recall ever taking other medications to prevent a miscarriage?

    Including the two mothers who reported taking hormones as a medication for bleeding, a total of four case (2.0%) and five control (2.4%) mothers (RR – 0.8, CI – 0.2 to 35) reported taking exogenous hormones during the index pregnancy. The types of hormones received were:

    • (2 case mothers, 2 control mothers);
    • estrogen (l control mother);
    • progesterone (1 case mother);
    • progesterone pregnancy test (1 case mother);
    • a hormone pregnancy test, type not specified (1 control mother);
    • and a hormone shot, type not specified (1 control mother), “

    The study is based on the mother’s recollection of whether/what hormones she was given during the pregnancy. Other studies have shown that women tend to vastly underestimate medication exposure during their pregnancies when asked about it later, and can completely forget about things like hormone injections and tablets they were taking daily. The only way to get accurate data on pregnancy hormone usage is via medical records. Therefore, this paper’s claim that pregnancy hormones don’t increase testicular cancer risk, is based on flawed data, and of little merit. Other studies show a substantially increased risk.

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