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ENDO: In Utero 17-OHPC Exposure Ups Later Cancer Risk

WEDNESDAY, March 24, 2021 -- In utero exposure to 17α-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17-OHPC) is associated with an increased risk for any cancer in adult offspring, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society, held virtually from March 20 to 23.

Caitlin C. Murphy, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues examined the impact of 17-OHPC exposure in utero on the risk of cancer in adult offspring among women receiving prenatal care between June 1959 and September 1966, with deliveries through June 1967. Data were included for 18,751 live births among 14,507 women.

The researchers identified 954 cancers that were diagnosed at ages 18 to 58 years. Breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancer and melanoma were the most frequent cancers (20.9, 10.9, 7.1, 5.9, and 9.2 percent, respectively). Overall, 181 women (1 percent) received 17-OHPC in early pregnancy, with indicating conditions including threatened spontaneous abortion, amnionitis, and incompetent cervix. In utero exposure was more common in offspring diagnosed with versus those without cancer (1.9 versus 0.9 percent). 17-OHPC was associated with an increased risk for any cancer in offspring (odds ratio, 2.08; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.27 to 3.40), with strong associations noted for colorectal and prostate cancer (odds ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 4.78 [1.49 to 15.41] and 3.83 [0.93 to 15.83], respectively). No association was seen between conditions indicating 17-OHPC and risk for any cancer in offspring.

"Our findings suggest multiple organ systems are susceptible to endocrine disruption during early development, which may increase risk of cancer decades later," Murphy said in a statement. "Caution using OHPC and other endocrine-active pharmaceuticals in early pregnancy is warranted."

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