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Effects of Estrogen on the Human Pituitary: A Clinicopathologic Study

      Pituitary glands obtained at autopsy of 67 men treated with diethylstilbestrol were examined for diffuse and nodular lactotrophic hyperplasia as well as prolactin cell tumorlets or adenomas. A control group consisted of 42 untreated patients with prostatic carcinoma and 209 other elderly men. Diffuse and nodular lactotrophic hyperplasia and the percentage of prolactin cells were greater in treated patients, but these differences were not statistically significant. The higher frequency of prolactin cell adenomas among treated patients (19%) than among control subjects (11%) also lacked statistical significance. An apparent low frequency of occurrence of adenoma in control patients with prostatic carcinoma remains unexplained. No correlation was noted between tumor number, size, morphologic features, or immunoreactivity and such factors as dose of estrogen therapy, associated diseases, ultimate cause of death, or patient age. A correlation was noted, however, between duration of estrogen therapy and the total number of pituitary adenomas, including those composed of prolactin cells. Relative proportions of other types of adenoma were similar within the study and control groups. We conclude that estrogen medication cannot be considered a major risk factor in the cause of prolactin-producing adenomas in older men.
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