Environment and Breast Cancer: Science Review

Evidence From Humans
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Breast adipose tissue concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls and other organochlorines and breast cancer risk
Aronson, K. J., Miller, A. B., Woolcott, C. G., Sterns, E. E., McCready, D. R., Lickley, L. A., Fish, E. B., Hiraki, G. Y., Holloway, C., Ross, T., Hanna, W. M., SenGupta, S. K., Weber, J. P. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 2000. 9:1, 55-63.
Topic area
Environmental pollutant - Pesticide, organochlorine, PCB, DDE, nonachlor, DD
Study design
Hospital based case-control
Funding agency
Other: Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative
Study Participants
Menopausal Status
The menopausal status of women included in this study is listed here.
Pre menopausal
Post menopausal
Number of Controls
Controls: 213
Participant selection: Inclusion and exclusion criteria
Criteria used to select participants in the study.
Women were enrolled prior to excision biopsies at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, and Kingston General Hospital in Kingston. Women were excluded if they had a previous diagnosis of any cancer except nonmelanoma skin cancer, had breast implants, were participating in a Tamoxifen trial, or were too ill. Cases were subjects diagnosed with in situ or invasive breast cancer. Controls were subjects with biopsies negative for malignancy, but most were diagnosed with BBD.
Exposures investigated
Lipid-corrected serum concentrations of PCBs, DDE, DDT, nonachlor, oxychlordane, HCB, Mirex, HCH
Statistical Analysis
Breast cancer outcome investigated
Primary breast cancer
Ethnic groups with separate analysis
If this study provided a separate analysis by ethnic or racial group, the groups are listed here.
Confounders considered
Other breast cancer risk factors, such as family history, age at first birth, and hormone replacement therapy use, that were taken into account in the study.
Age, study site, menopausal status, ever pregnant, lactation, age last breast fed, present use of HRT, ethnicity, family history, BMI, fat intake, alcohol intake, present smoking, cumulative smoking.
Genetic characterization included
If the study analyzed relationships between environmental factors and inherited genetic variations, this field will be marked “Yes.” “No”, if not.
Description of major analysis
Unconditional logistic regression to calculate ORs. ORs were stratified by menopausal status.
Strength of associations reported
A significant dose-response increase in risk was seen for PCB 105 and 118.

A dose-response increase in risk (not reaching significance for the highest quartile) was seen for PCB 99 and 138.

Risk is higher among postmenopausal women for PCB 170 and 180, but higher among premenopausal women for PCB 105 and 118.

Significantly elevated risks were seen for individual quartiles of PCBs 156, 170 (postmenopausal only), and 180 (postmenopausal only), but no dose-response was seen.

A non-significant elevation was seen for p,p'-DDE (highest quartile OR = 1.62, 95% CI: 0.84-3.11).
When HRT users were excluded, the OR in the highest quartile of DDE increased to 2.0 (95% CI: 1.0 - 4.2).

A significantly increased risk was seen for the highest quartile of Mirex, but only among parous post-menopausal never-lactating women (OR = 4.23, 95% CI: 1.01-17.8)
Results Comments
Controls with benign breast disease were used as the referent group.
Author address
Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. aronson@post.queensu.ca