[Environmental pollutants and prostate cancer: epidemiological data]

Gynecol Obstet Fertil. 2008 Sep;36(9):848-56. doi: 10.1016/j.gyobfe.2008.07.005. Epub 2008 Aug 9.
[Article in French]


Prostate cancer is the most frequent cancer affecting men in most Western countries. Certain risk factors have been identified (age, family history, ethnic origin), but the aetiology of this cancer remains largely unknown. However, a role for environmental factors is strongly suspected. Questions have been raised concerning the role of the chemical substances generated by human activities in the occurrence of this disease. Diverse studies have consistently demonstrated a higher risk of prostate cancer in agricultural populations than in the general population. The hypothesis that this higher risk is linked to the use of pesticides has been tested in a number of studies, mostly in North America and Europe. However, to date, with a few possible exceptions, it has been impossible to demonstrate a significant association between exposure to pesticides or a chemical family of pesticides and prostate cancer. Studies have also been carried out on the role of exposure to trace metals, such as cadmium, or to pollutants from industry, such as polychlorobiphenyls. However, no firm conclusions have been drawn. Finally, the effect of chemical substances with endocrine disruptor activity on the occurrence of prostate cancer remains largely unexplored in epidemiological studies. In the face of these uncertainties, rigorous studies are required, with objective measurements of exposure, taking into account confounding factors and individual risk factors, making it possible to assess gene-environment interactions.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Pollution / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity*
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Pesticides