Hypothesis: does breast cancer originate in utero?

Lancet. 1990 Apr 21;335(8695):939-40. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(90)91000-z.


Factors that increase the risk of cancer during adult life may also increase the risk of cancer when they act in utero (eg, ionising radiation and diethylstilboestrol in human beings and chemicals in animals). The existing empirical data seem to be compatible with the hypothesis that increased concentrations of oestrogens in pregnancy increase the probability of future occurrence of breast cancer in daughters.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Diethylstilbestrol / adverse effects*
  • Estrogens / adverse effects
  • Estrogens / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Pregnancy / blood*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Risk Factors


  • Estrogens
  • Diethylstilbestrol