Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 697–714 | Cite as

Brain tumors and hormonal factors: review of the epidemiological literature

  • Anne Cowppli-Bony
  • Ghislaine Bouvier
  • Marjory Rué
  • Hugues Loiseau
  • Anne Vital
  • Pierre Lebailly
  • Pascale Fabbro-Peray
  • Isabelle Baldi
Original paper



To date, the etiology of primary tumors of the central nervous system (mainly gliomas and meningiomas) is poorly understood. The role of sex hormones has been suggested, based on clinical, experimental, biological, and epidemiological data.


To review the epidemiological studies on the relation between hormonal factors and the occurrence of glioma and meningioma, in order to identify new research developments.


Articles published until September 2010 were selected by considering exogenous and endogenous exposures and specific brain tumors. Standardized information was collected from 20 articles: 15 concerning gliomas and 13 meningiomas.


An increased glioma risk was observed with later menarche and menopause, while a reduced glioma risk was observed with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and oral contraceptive use, despite duration of use had no effect on risk. Meningioma risk increased after menopause and with HRT use. No clear association was found with pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Results are globally concordant with the biologic hypothesis assuming that female sex hormones are protective against glioma and may increase the risk of meningioma. However, new epidemiological studies should be conducted in order to confirm these associations and to refine the role of hormonal factors in brain etiology.


Glioma Meningioma Reproductive history Hormonal replacement therapy Oral contraceptive 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Cowppli-Bony
    • 1
  • Ghislaine Bouvier
    • 1
  • Marjory Rué
    • 2
  • Hugues Loiseau
    • 2
  • Anne Vital
    • 3
  • Pierre Lebailly
    • 4
  • Pascale Fabbro-Peray
    • 5
  • Isabelle Baldi
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire Santé Travail EnvironnementInstitut de Santé Publique d’Epidémiologie et de DéveloppementBordeaux CedexFrance
  2. 2.Service de neurochirurgieCHU PellegrinBordeauxFrance
  3. 3.Service de PathologieCentre Hospitalier et Universitaire de BordeauxBordeauxFrance
  4. 4.GRECAN, Centre François BaclesseUniversité de Caen-Basse NormandieCaenFrance
  5. 5.Unité de Biostatistiques EpidémiologieInstitut Universitaire de Recherche CliniqueMontpellierFrance

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