Endocrine disruptors may increase the risk of endometrial cancer

A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives by researchers from IDIBELL, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Granada and the Institute of Biosanitary Research of Granada reveals an association between mixtures of environmental pollutants and an increased risk of developing endometrial cancer.


A research led by IDIBELL, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Granada and the Institute of Biosanitary Research of Granada, published today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, has revealed the connection between environmental pollutants and endometrial cancer. This is a collaborative work in which scientists and doctors from the University Hospital of Bellvitge and CIBERESP have participated.

Endometrial cancer is a type of tumour that develops on the inner side of the uterus and accounts for more than 5,000 new cases in Spain every year, with a great impact on women’s health. Moreover, this type of cancer is occurring with increasing frequency, partly due to the ageing of the population. On the other hand, as it is a hormone-dependent cancer, oestrogens may play a role in its development and progression.

This study addresses the link between endometrial cancer and exposure to mixtures of environmental pollutants that can interfere with hormone functions. This class of endocrine disruptors, also known as xenoestrogens, are found in many industrial chemicals, including pesticides and herbicides, as well as in cosmetics and other everyday consumer items.

Using advanced chemical analysis techniques and biological assays, the researchers have assessed the total hormone load in the blood of more than 300 women, with and without endometrial cancer. “The use of these biological assays helps us to understand the negative impact of chemical mixtures” says Marieta Fernández, professor at the University of Granada and researcher at the Institute of Biosanitary Research of Granada and CIBERESP.

The results reveal an association between exposure to endocrine disruptors and an increased risk of developing endometrial cancer. “Interestingly, we found the effect with medium doses of xenoestrogens, but not with high doses, similar to what was observed with endogenous hormones” explains Laura Costas, a researcher at IDIBELL and the Catalan Institute of Oncology.

This relationship is probably linked to the nature of the tumour itself, being a hormone-dependent cancer. Therefore, we also want to study whether the presence of xenoestrogens would imply a worse evolution of the pathology in women who already have the disease” says Costas, also a researcher at CIBERESP.

This research sheds light on the negative impact of endocrine disruptors on human health and has significant implications for public health. In addition, the results highlight the need to consider the combined effect of chemical mixtures when assessing environmental risk.








The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).


Original paper

Costas L, Frias-Gomez J, Peinado FM, Molina-Molina JM, Peremiquel-Trillas P, Paytubi S, Crous-Bou M, de Francisco J, Caño V, Benavente Y, Pelegrina B, Martínez JM, Pineda M, Brunet J, Matias-Guiu X, de Sanjosé S, Ponce J, Olea N, Alemany L, Fernández MF. Total Effective Xenoestrogen Burden in Serum Samples and Risk of Endometrial Cancer in the Spanish Screenwide Case-Control Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2024 FEB;132(2):27012. doi: 10.1289/EHP13202

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