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    Studies and Reports

    • 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."
    • 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."
    • Gammon M et al., Environmental toxins and breast cancer on Long Island. II. Organochlorine compound levels in blood, Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Aug;11(8):686-97.
      • Conclusions. "Whether environmental contaminants increase breast cancer risk among women on Long Island, NY, is unknown. The study objective is to determine whether breast cancer risk is increased in relation to organochlorines, compounds with known estrogenic characteristics that were extensively used on Long Island and other areas of the United States. Recent reports do not support a strong association, although there are concerns with high risks observed in subgroups of women. Blood samples from 646 case and 429 control women from a population-based case-control study conducted on Long Island were analyzed. No substantial elevation in breast cancer risk was observed in relation to the highest quintile of lipid-adjusted serum levels of p,p'-bis(4-chlorophenyl)-1,1-dichloroethene (DDE) [odds ratio (OR), 1.20 versus lowest quintile; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.76-1.90], chlordane (OR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.62-1.55), dieldrin (OR, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.69-2.72), the sum of the four most frequently occurring PCB congeners (nos. 118, 153, 138, and 180; OR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.54-1.29), and other PCB congener groupings. No dose-response relations were apparent. Nor was risk increased in relation to organochlorines among women who had not breastfed or were overweight, postmenopausal, or long-term residents of Long Island; or with whether the case was diagnosed with invasive rather than in situ disease, or with a hormone receptor-positive tumor. These findings, based on the largest number of samples analyzed to date among primarily white women, do not support the hypothesis that organochlorines increase breast cancer risk among Long Island women."
    • Zheng T et al., Oxychlordane and trans-nonachlor in breast adipose tissue and risk of female breast cancer, J Epidemiol Biostat. 2000;5(3):153-60.
      • Conclusion. "We found no significantly increased risk of breast cancer associated with breast adipose-tissue levels of OCD or TNC; this is consistent with recent epidemiological studies, indicating that environmental exposure to organochlorine compounds does not have an overall significant impact on breast-cancer risk."
    • Fleming L et al., Mortality in a cohort of licensed pesticide applicators in Florida, Occup Environ Med. 1999 Jan;56(1):14-21.
      • Results and Conclusions. RESULTS: The pesticide applicators were consistently and significantly healthier than the general population of Florida. As with many occupational cohorts, the risks of cardiovascular disease and of diseases associated with alcohol and tobacco use were significantly lower, even in the subpopulations--for example, men, women, and licence subcategories. Among male applicators, prostate cancer mortality (SMR 2.38 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.83 to 3.04) was significantly increased. No cases of soft tissue sarcoma were confirmed in this cohort, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was not increased. The number of female applicators was small, as were the numbers of deaths. Mortality from cervical cancer and breast cancer was not increased. Additional subcohort and exposure analyses were performed. CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with previous publications on farmers but at odds with current theories about the protective effects of vitamin D, prostate cancer was increased in these pesticide applicators. Female breast cancer was not increased despite theories linking risk of breast cancer with exposure to oestrogen disruptors--such as the organochlorines. The lack of cases of soft tissue sarcoma is at odds with previous publications associating the use of the phenoxy herbicides with an increased risk of these cancers."
    • 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."
    • Adami H et al., Organochlorine compounds and estrogen-related cancers in women, Cancer Causes Control. 1995 Nov;6(6):551-66.
      • Abstract. "The organochlorines, a diverse group of some 15,000 compounds, have been implicated increasingly as being harmful to humans. Some congeners of DDT and PCB elicit very weak estrogenic responses in animals, while the dioxin TCDD and related compounds have antiestrogenic properties. This review summarizes the evidence regarding whether certain organochlorine compounds, usually as persistent food-chain contaminants, increase the risk of breast and endometrial cancers through their estrogenic potential. In humans, neither ecologic data nor occupational studies provide clear support for an association between organochlorine exposure and the occurrence of these cancers. In our summary analysis of occupational exposure, the rate ratio of breast cancer for exposed cf unexposed women was 0.84 (95 percent confidence interval [CI] = 0.50-1.33) for PCBs and 1.08 (CI = 0.68-1.58) for TCDD. Similarly, effect estimates close to unity were found in summary analysis of breast cancer case-control studies regarding levels of DDE and PCB in adipose tissue or serum. In two recent nested case-control studies using stored specimens, the odds ratio per standard deviation increase in serum p,p'-DDE was 1.27 (CI = 0.95-1.69). Although estrogenic effects of certain organochlorine compounds should be easier to detect on the endometrium, we know of no analytic epidemiologic studies of endometrial cancer published to data. We conclude that available data do not indicate that organochlorines will affect the risk of these two cancers in any but the most unusual situation."
    • Ahlborg U et al., Organochlorine compounds in relation to breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and endometriosis: an assessment of the biological and epidemiological evidence, Crit Rev Toxicol. 1995;25(6):463-531.
      • Abstract. "There is an increasing public and scientific concern that certain chlorinated compounds, recognized as environmental pollutants, may cause estrogen-related neoplastic disease in humans. The main hypothesis has been that certain organochlorines, through their estrogenic actions, might cause breast cancer. From experimental studies, both in vitro and in vivo, there is evidence that certain organochlorine compounds may cause estrogenic effects, whereas others may cause antiestrogenic effects. In limited studies, some of these compounds in high doses have also been shown to increase and reduce the frequency of estrogen-related tumors in animals. The epidemiological findings regarding the association between organochlorines and breast cancer are inconclusive. However, the largest and best designed study has been interpreted as negative with respect to DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) in relation to breast cancer. Associations between organochlorine exposure and endometrial cancer or endometriosis have even more limited empirical basis. The hypothesis that human exposure to environmental levels or organochlorines would favor an estrogenic overactivity leading to an increase in estrogen-dependent formation of mammary or endometrial tumors is not supported by the existing in vitro, animal and epidemiological evidence. It can, however, not be conclusively rejected on the basis of available data."
    • 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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