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Studies and Reports

  • Entine J, Scare to Death: How Chemophobia Threatens Public Health, American Council on Science and Health, January 18, 2011.
  • Rubin C et al., Breast cancer among Alaska Native women potentially exposed to environmental organochlorine chemicals, Int J Circumpolar Health. 2006 Feb;65(1):18-27.
    • Abstract. " Although the results are limited by small sample size and restricted risk factor information, our findings of higher DDE levels, but lower PCB levels among women with breast cancer are consistent with previous research. Our results confirm exposure to organochlorines among Alaska Native women but do not identify these exposures as a significant risk factor for breast cancer."
  • Purdue M et al., Occupational exposure to organochlorine insecticides and cancer incidence in the Agricultural Health Study, Int J Cancer. 2007 Feb 1;120(3):642-9.
    • Abstract. "Organochlorine (OC) insecticides have been regulated as possible human carcinogens primarily on the basis of animal studies. However, the epidemiologic evidence is inconsistent. We investigated the relationship between cancer incidence and OC insecticide use among pesticide applicators enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study, a prospective cohort study of 57,311 licensed applicators in Iowa and North Carolina enrolled between 1993 and 1997. Information on ever use of 7 OC insecticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, heptachlor, lindane, toxaphene) was collected from a self-administered questionnaire at enrollment. Lifetime exposure-days to OC insecticides were calculated using additional data from a take-home questionnaire completed by 25,291 participants (44% of total). We found no clear evidence of an association between use of OC insecticides and incident cancers (N = 1,150) ascertained through December, 2002. When we focused on individual insecticides and structurally similar groups (aldrin and dieldrin; chlordane and heptachlor), significantly increased relative risks of some cancers were observed for use of some chemicals (rectal cancer and chlordane, lung cancer and dieldrin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and lindane, melanoma and toxaphene, leukemia and chlordane/heptachlor). Some significant decreased relative risks were also observed (colon cancer and aldrin; overall cancer and heptachlor). In conclusion, we did not observe any clear relationship between cancer risk and the use of OC insecticides. Our chemical-specific findings are based on small numbers and multiple comparisons, and should be interpreted with caution; however, some observed associations (lindane and NHL, chlordane/heptachlor and leukemia) are supported by previous evidence."
  • Cocco P et al., Cancer mortality among men occupationally exposed to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, Cancer Res. 2005 Oct 15;65(20):9588-94.
    • Abstract. " Several studies have evaluated cancer risk associated with occupational and environmental exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). Results are mixed. To further inquire into human carcinogenicity of DDT, we conducted a mortality follow-up study of 4,552 male workers, exposed to DDT during antimalarial operations in Sardinia, Italy, conducted in 1946 to 1950. Detailed information on DDT use during the operations provided the opportunity to develop individual estimates of average and cumulative exposure. Mortality of the cohort was first compared with that of the Sardinian population. Overall mortality in the cohort was about as expected, but there was a deficit for death from cardiovascular disease and a slight excess for nonmalignant respiratory diseases and lymphatic cancer among the unexposed subcohort. For internal comparisons, we used Poisson regression analysis to calculate relative risks of selected malignant and nonmalignant diseases with the unexposed subcohort as the reference. Cancer mortality was decreased among DDT-exposed workers, mainly due to a reduction in lung cancer deaths. Birth outside from the study area was a strong predictor of mortality from leukemia. Mortality from stomach cancer increased up to 2-fold in the highest quartile of cumulative exposure (relative risk, 2.0; 95% confidence interval, 0.9-4.4), but no exposure-response trend was observed. Risks of liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and leukemia were not elevated among DDT-exposed workers. No effect of latency on risk estimates was observed over the 45 years of follow-up and within selected time windows. Adjusting risks by possible exposure to chlordane in the second part of the antimalarial operations did not change the results. In conclusion, we found little evidence for a link between occupational exposure to DDT and mortality from any of the cancers previously suggested to be associated."
  • Cantor K et al., Risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prediagnostic serum organochlorines: beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, chlordane/heptachlor-related compounds, dieldrin, and hexachlorobenzene, Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Feb;111(2):179-83.
    • Abstract. "Increases in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) incidence and mortality rates during the past few decades remain largely unexplained. Studies suggest that organochlorine pesticides may contribute to an increased risk of NHL. In 1974, serum samples were obtained from 25,802 participants in the Campaign Against Cancer and Stroke in Washington County, Maryland (USA), and cryopreserved for future study. We measured prediagnostic levels of chlordane, lindane (gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane), beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, transnonachlor, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, oxychlordane, dieldrin, and hexachlorobenzene in serum samples of 74 cases of NHL and 147 matched controls. Previously, we found an association between NHL and serum levels of total PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), but not DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and related compounds. In this instance, there was no evidence of an association between NHL risk and serum levels of any of the individual lipid- and recovery-corrected organochlorines that we evaluated, nor of the summed chlordane-related compounds (transnonachlor, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, oxychlordane). These findings do not support the hypothesis that the organochlorine compounds included in this study are strongly linked to the development of NHL. The possibility of a weak association cannot be excluded by these data."
  • Zheng T et al., Risk of female breast cancer associated with serum polychlorinated biphenyls and 1,1-dichloro-2,2'-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene, Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 Feb;9(2):167-74.
    • Abstract. This case-control study was designed to investigate the relationship between polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 1,1-dichloro-2,2'-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene (DDE) and breast cancer risk in Connecticut. Cases were incident breast cancer patients who were either residents of Tolland County or who had a breast-related surgery at the Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven County. Controls were randomly selected from Tolland County residents or from patients who had newly diagnosed benign breast diseases or normal tissue at Yale-New Haven Hospital. A total of 475 cases and 502 controls had their serum samples analyzed for PCBs and DDE in 1995-1997. The age- and lipid-adjusted geometric mean serum level of DDE was comparable between the cases (460.1 ppb) and controls (456.2 ppb). The geometric mean serum level of PCBs was also comparable between cases (733.1 ppb) and controls (747.6 ppb). After adjustment for confounding factors, odds ratios of 0.96 (95% confidence interval, 0.67-1.36) for DDE and 0.95 (95% confidence interval, 0.68-1.32) for PCBs were observed when the third tertile was compared with the lowest. Further stratification by parity, lactation, and menopausal and estrogen receptor status also showed no significant association with serum levels of DDE or PCBs. The results by PCB congener groups also showed no major increased risk associated with any of the congener groups. Our study does not support the hypothesis that DDE and PCBs, as encountered through environmental exposure, increase the risk of female breast cancer."
  • Cocco P et al., Cancer mortality and environmental exposure to DDE in the United States, Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Jan;108(1):1-4.
    • Abstract. "To explore the role of DDE, the major and most persistent DDT derivative, in cancer etiology, we examined the association of the 1968 adipose DDE levels of population samples from 22 U.S. states with age-adjusted mortality rates between 1975 and 1994 for multiple myeloma; non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL); and cancer of the breast, corpus uteri, liver, and pancreas. Separate analyses were conducted by gender and race. Covariates in the regression models included average per-capita income, percent metropolitan residents, and the population density. Liver cancer mortality increased significantly with adipose DDE levels in both sexes among whites, but not among African Americans. No association was observed for pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma. Breast cancer mortality was inversely correlated with adipose DDE levels among both white and African American women. Significant inverse correlations were also observed for uterine cancer among white women, whereas no association was observed for African Americans and for NHL among whites (men and women) and African American women. The results for pancreatic cancer, multiple myeloma, NHL, breast cancer, and uterine cancer did not support the hypothesis of an association with past adipose levels of the DDT derivative DDE. The multivariate analysis confirmed most findings. The association between liver cancer and DDE observed among whites, particularly in view of the occurrence of hepatic neoplasms in laboratory animals exposed to DDT, warrants further investigation."
  • Zheng T et al., DDE and DDT in breast adipose tissue and risk of female breast cancer, Am J Epidemiol. 1999 Sep 1;150(5):453-8.
    • Abstract. "A case-control study was conducted in Connecticut from 1994 to 1997 to investigate the relation between dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDE) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) exposure and breast cancer risk. Cases and controls were women aged 40-79 years, who had breast-related surgery at the Yale-New Haven Hospital and from whose surgical specimen the authors could obtain at least 0.4 g of breast adipose tissue for chemical analyses. A total of 304 incident breast cancer cases (including 62 in situ carcinomas) and 186 benign breast disease controls were recruited into the study. Tissue levels of DDE and DDT were measured using gas chromatography. Statistical significance for comparisons of mean levels of DDE and DDT was calculated using analysis of variance and rank sum tests. A logistic regression model was used to estimate the association and to control confounding. The age-adjusted geometric mean tissue level of DDE for cases (736.5 ppb) was similar to that for the controls (784.1 ppb). DDT levels were also similar for cases (51.8 ppb) and controls (55.6 ppb). The adjusted odds ratio is 0.9 (95% confidence interval: 0.5, 1.5) for DDE and 0.8 (95% confidence interval: 0.5, 1.5) for DDT when the highest quartile was compared with the lowest. These results do not support an association between adipose tissue levels of DDE and DDT and breast cancer risk."
  • Baris D et al., Agricultural use of DDT and risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: pooled analysis of three case-control studies in the United States, Occup Environ Med. 1998 Aug;55(8):522-7.
    • Conclusions. "No strong consistent evidence was found for an association between exposure to DDT and risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It seems that the excess risk initially found may be explained by use of other pesticides."
  • Rothman N et al., A nested case-control study of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and serum organochlorine residues, Lancet. 1997 Jul 26;350(9073):240-4.
    • Findings and Interpretation. "FINDINGS: There was a strong dose-response relation between quartiles of total lipid-corrected serum PCB concentrations and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma overall (odds ratios by quartile: 1.0; 1.3 [95% CI 0.5-3.3]; 2.8 [1.1-7.6]); and 4.5 [1.7-12.0]; p for trend = 0.0008) and separately in men and in women. There was also evidence suggesting that seropositivity for the Epstein-Barr virus early antigen potentiated the effects of serum PCBs. By contrast, total lipid-corrected serum concentrations of DDT were not associated with risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. INTERPRETATION: These results should be regarded as hypothesis-generating. Before causal inferences can be made about exposure to PCBs and increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, our findings require replication and the biological plausibility of the association needs further investigation."
  • Fryzek J et al., A case-control study of self-reported exposures to pesticides and pancreas cancer in southeastern Michigan, Int J Cancer. 1997 Jul 3;72(1):62-7.
    • Abstract. "A case-control study of pancreas cancer in residents, aged 30-79 years, of 18 counties in southeastern Michigan was conducted to investigate the risks of exposure to DDT and related materials in the general population. Sixty-six people with cytologically diagnosed pancreas cancer were identified using 7 participating hospitals in metropolitan Detroit and Ann Arbor. One hundred and thirty-one controls were frequency-matched to the cases on age, sex, ethicity and county of residence by random-digit dialing. All study participants were administered a questionnaire to assess life-time exposure to pesticides from both environmental and occupational sources, family history of cancer, past medical history, smoking history and demographic information. A statistically significant increased risk was found for self-reported exposure to ethylan (1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(4-methoxyphenyl) ethane). Increased odds ratios were observed for self-reported exposures to chloropropylate and DDT, as well as for the summary group of organochlorine pesticides which included all of these materials, though these associations were not significant."
  • Austin H et al., A prospective follow-up study of cancer mortality in relation to serum DDT, Am J Public Health. 1989 Jan;79(1):43-6.
    • Abstract. "Serum DDT and DDE levels were measured in 919 subjects in 1974 and 1975. Two-hundred and nine of the subjects died, including 54 from cancer, during a 10-year prospective follow-up period. There was no relation between either overall mortality or cancer mortality and increasing serum DDT levels. There was weak evidence of a positive relation between respiratory cancer mortality and serum DDT. The literature on DDT and human cancer is reviewed, and it is concluded that the evidence does not support the opinion that DDT is a human carcinogen."
  • Ditraglia D et al., Mortality study of workers employed at organochlorine pesticide manufacturing plants, Scand J Work Environ Health. 1981;7 Suppl 4:140-6.
    • Abstract. "A retrospective cohort study was conducted to examine the mortality of workers employed in the manufacture of the chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides, chlordane, heptachlor, dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane (DDT) and aldrin/dieldrin/endrin. Four manufacturing plants were selected for study, and each cohort included all workers employed for at least six months prior to January 1964. The entire study group totaled approximately 2,100 individuals. Vital status ascertainment for these cohorts ranged from 90 to 97% complete; the cut-off date for follow-up was 31 December 1976. In general there were too few deaths in this study on which to draw any meaningful conclusions. The standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for all causes in each cohort was below the expected level (100) and ranged from 66 to 82, probably a reflection of the "healthy worker effect." For "all malignant neoplasms" the SMRs ranged from 68 to 91 and for respiratory cancer from 55 to 132. In the aldrin/dieldrin/endrin cohort observed deaths due to pneumonia and "other respiratory diseases" were significantly above the expected number of deaths. For several other specific cancer sites (stomach in plant 1, esophagus, rectum, liver and lymphatic/hematopoietic system in plant 3), the observed deaths were more than the expected number and should be examined in more detail. It is recommended that these cohorts be followed for several more years and the mortality patterns be reexamined."

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