Environment and Breast Cancer: Science Review

Evidence From Humans
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Pesticides and mortality from hormone-dependent cancers
Janssens, J. P., Van Hecke, E., Geys, H., Bruckers, L., Renard, D., Molenberghs, G. European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 2001. 10:5, 459-67.
Topic area
Environmental pollutant - pesticides
Study design
Other: Ecologic epidemiology
Funding agency
Fonds Slimme Regio of the Province of Limbburg
Study Participants
Exposures investigated
Exposure to pesticides. Percent of municipal area used for cultivation of specific crops combined with information on pesticide use in the cultivation of those crops. 589 municipalities. Crop patterns are generally stable for decades or centuries.
How exposure was measured
GIS/geographic location
Breast cancer outcome investigated
Mortality from breast cancer by municipality
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.
Population density, urbanization, industrial activity, presence of an incinerator, dioxin report
Strength of associations reported
Analyses included a spatial regression model.
Potato growing, but not other crops, is significantly associated with breast cancer mortality
Results Comments
Authors state: defoliants are used almost exclusively on potatoes. Pesticides used historically for potato cultivation include DDT. Authors state: If DDT is responsible for the association, a decrease in breast cancer mortality is expected, due to banning DDT
Author address
European Cancer Prevention Organization, Limburgs Universitair Centrum, Universitaire Campus - Building C, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium. janssens.ecp@skynet.be
Reviewers Comments
Does historical pesticide use on crops other than potatoes suggest a reason for the finding of an association with mortality only for potato cultivation?