Environment and Breast Cancer: Science Review

Evidence From Humans
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Breast cancer risk in relation to adipose concentrations of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in Long Island, New York
Stellman, S. D., Djordjevic, M. V., Britton, J. A., Muscat, J. E., Citron, M. L., Kemeny, M., Busch, E., Gong, L. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 2000. 9:11, 1241-9.
Topic area
Environmental pollutant - PCBs, pesticide, HCB, DDE, DDT
Study design
Hospital based case-control
Study Participants
Menopausal Status
The menopausal status of women included in this study is listed here.
Pre menopausal
Post menopausal
Number of Controls
Controls: 323
Participant selection: Inclusion and exclusion criteria
Criteria used to select participants in the study.
Participants recruited for the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project from the two largest hospitals in Long Island. Cases were women newly diagnosed with malignant breast cancer (N = 199) or carcinoma in situ (N = 33). Controls included women with benign breast diseases (N = 250) and women undergoing non-breast-related surgery (N = 73). Patients scheduled for breast biopsies and/or surgery were identified through breast physicians, and by consulting the lists of patients scheduled for presurgical testing.
Exposure Investigated
Exposures investigated
Exposure measured was the concentration in adipose tissue of seven organochlorine pesticides (p,p'-DDE p,p'-DDT, o,p'-DDD, oxychlordane, trans-nonachlor, beta-HCH, and HCB), and fourteen PCB congeners (BZ 74, 99, 118, 138, 146, 153, 156, 167, 170, 172, 17
Exposure assessment comment
A single measure of adipose tissue pesticide concentration close to the time of diagnosis may not be representative of the etiologic pesticide dose.
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 at diagnosis, BMI, hospital, race, reproductive and other breast cancer risk factors, diet, smoking, family history of breast cancer
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
Analysis of covariance used to compare the log10 mean adipose concentrations of each chemical between cases and controls. Unconditional logistic regression, using tertiles of organochlorine/PCB burden, adjusted for age, BMI, hospital and race. Stratifica
Strength of associations reported
Among organochlorine pesticides and PCB congeners, no significant differences between cases and controls, except for p,p'-DDT (geometric mean 13.6 vs 13.4 ng/g, p = 0.04), BZ 74 (27.6 vs 26.8 ng/g, p<0.01), and BZ 183 (5.9 vs 4.3 ng/g, p = 0.02).
Adjusted OR of highest vs. lowest tertile is 0.74 (95% CI: 0.44-1.25) for DDE, 0.66 (95% CI: 0.38-1.17) for total organochlorines, and 1.01 (95% CI: 0.6-1.69) for total PCBs.
Modest difference based on ER+/ER- stratification: for the medium category of total organochlorine pesticide concentration (212.93-618.81 ng/g) the ER+ OR was 1.21 (95% CI: 0.61-2.06), whereas the ER- OR was 2.17 (95% CI: 1.03-4.58).
Results Comments
Most of the pesticide adipose concentrations analyses did not show significant differences between cases and controls, although significant differences were found for p,p'-DDT, and two PCB congeners (BZ 74 and BZ 183). The OR for BZ 183 in postmenopausal women with tissue concentrations >5.66 ng/g compared to the lowest concentration group was 3.2 (95% CI: 1.5-7.0). However, the etiologic relevance of the BZ 183 result cannot be assessed without corroboration from other studies.
Author address
Divisions of Epidemiology, American Health Foundation, Valhalla, New York 10595, USA. sds91@columbia.edu