Cancer pp 138-176 | Cite as

Hormones and Cancer


For several reasons, an appropriate discussion of endocrinology represents the ideal transition from the yesterday to the today of oncology. First, modern endocrinology can be seen as a gradual development from the various humoralistic doctrines of ancient times (Chapter Two). It is true that the presumed cause of cancer in these doctrines, most notably the atrabilis of Greece, cannot be equated with any particular hormone or any other humoral factor known to modern biology. However, the attempted disproofs of the persistent doctrine of atrabilism led to the alternative humoralistic doctrines (e.g. those based upon iatrochemicals, solidistic and fluid lymph, and blastema) that culminatd in the ‘oestrin’, ‘progynon’, and other crude hormonal preparations of the early twentieth century and, eventually, in the complex endocrinology of today. Currently, there is increasing recognition of the exquisite interdependence, based upon feedback controls, that operate within the body’s endocrine systems, e.g. the system comprising the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal cortex, and germinal glands (ovary and testis) in the control of sexual and reproductive development and function. With this recognition, it does not seem too far-fetched that some of the neurohypophyseal, adreno- medullary catecholamino, and steroidal hormones may play roles in the development of the type of melancholy which, from the days of Galen, through those of Theodoric of the thirteenth century with his ‘melancholy’ cancers, to even later times, was generally believed to predispose to cancer, mainly of the female breast (Chapter Two, Section 2.4.5).


Breast Cancer Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Polypeptide Hormone Natural Hormone Steroidal Hormone 


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© R. Nery 1986

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