Environment and Breast Cancer: Science Review

Evidence From Humans
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Breast cancer and serum organochlorine residues
Charlier, C., Albert, A., Herman, P., Hamoir, E., Gaspard, U., Meurisse, M., Plomteux, G. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2003. 60:5, 348-51.
Topic area
Environmental pollutant - Pesticide, DDT, DDE, HCB
Study design
Hospital based case-control
Funding agency
Not reported
Study Participants
Menopausal Status
The menopausal status of women included in this study is listed here.
Pre menopausal
Post menopausal
Number of Controls
Controls: 250
Participant selection: Inclusion and exclusion criteria
Criteria used to select participants in the study.
Cases: patients in the university hospital with palpable mass or mammographic abnormality, and positive biopsy, and hospitalized for mastectomy or tumorectomy. Controls: Random sample of women free of known cancer consulting for routine vaginal examination at same hospital. Matched based on year of birth, menopausal status, reproductive history, and date of blood sampling.
Exposure Investigated
Exposures investigated
Serum concentration of HCB and total DDT (sum of all DDT isomers: op'-DDT, pp'-DDT, op'-DDE, and pp'-DDE). No differences between lipid-adjusted and crude results, so crude presented.
Exposure assessment comment
A single measure of serum pesticide concentration close to the time of diagnosis may not be representative of the etiologic pesticide dose. The detection limit (0.5 ppb) censors the data for a substantial number of cases.
Statistical Analysis
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.
Simultaneous presence of HCB and DDT congeners, smoking, breast feeding history, urban/rural residence
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
Odds ratios, adjusted using conditional logistic regression
Strength of associations reported
Odds-ratio of detectable/non-detectable levels of total DDT: 5.64 (1.81-17.65), adjusted for breast feeding history
Odds-ratio of detectable/non-detectable levels of HCB: 9.14 (2.84-29.41), adjusted for breast feeding history
Results Comments
Mean concentration of total DDT 3.94 ppb in cases vs. 1.83 ppb in controls (overall low levels compared to those seen in older studies) This study only included white women. Estrogen receptor status was not associated with DDT or HCB concentrations.
Author address
Clinical Toxicology Laboratory, Sart Tilman University Hospital, University of Liege, 4000 Liege, Belgium. C.CHARLIER@chu.ulg.ac.be