No Link Seen Between Breast Cancer And Pesticides, PCB Exposure For General Population

August 20, 1997

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A new study of the relationship of pesticides and PCBs with breast cancer shows that these compounds are not a risk factor for breast cancer for the general population of women.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo found that blood levels of organochlorines -- such as DDE, HCB, mirex and PCBs -- were not higher in women with breast cancer than in healthy women.

However, when participants were separated into groups according to history of breast-feeding, women with breast cancer who had never breast-fed had significantly higher levels of organochlorines than healthy women who never breast-fed. No difference was seen for women in either group with a history of breast feeding.

"These results suggest that higher blood levels of organochlorines were a risk factor for breast cancer only for women with no history of breast feeding," said Kirsten Moysich, Ph.D., research instructor in the UB Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and chief investigator on the study.

Previous studies by UB epidemiologists found that breast feeding, as well as having been breast-fed, appeared to offer women some protection against developing breast cancer later in life. These studies did not measure levels of organochlorines.

"These chemicals are stored in fatty tissue, including breast tissue," Moysich said. "The chief mechanism for eliminating them from breast tissue is lactation, which flushes them from the system." She said that even though the baby is exposed to these substances, the beneficial effects of breast feeding appear to outweigh potential risks associated with these organochlorines.

Results of the study will be presented at the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology in Taiwan on Aug. 20.

The research involved 154 postmenopausal women with breast cancer and 192 healthy women of similar age selected randomly from the general population. Extensive information on diet, reproductive and medical history and other lifestyle information was obtained from all participants through personal interviews.

Researchers also drew blood samples and measured levels of DDE, HCB, mirex and PCBs. Organochlorine pesticides and PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were used widely in the U.S. until the 1970s, when they were banned from commercial production due to concerns about potential harmful health effects.

Since these compounds are stored in body fat and are not easily broken down, they accumulate in the body over time. Some of these chemicals have been shown to increase estrogen activity in animals and consequently have been linked to breast-cancer risk.

Moysich said the study results suggest that environmental exposure to organochlorines is related to the risk of breast cancer only in postmenopausal women who have never breast-fed, and is not a risk factor for breast cancer for the population at large.

"It is tempting to blame environmental exposure to potential carcinogens for causing breast cancer, because there is little to be done about it," said Moysich. "It eliminates the responsibility for changing one's lifestyle or habits. But our study and others don't show an adverse effect for the general population."

Also participating in the study were Christine Ambrosone, Ph.D.; John Vena, Ph.D.; James Marshall, Ph.D.; Saxon Graham, Ph.D.; Rosemary Laughlin, Ph.D.; Pauline Mendola, Ph.D., and Jo Freudenheim, Ph.D., all current or former faculty members in the UB Department of Social and Preventive Medicine. Also, Enrique Schisterman, doctoral candidate in the department; Peter Shields, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute, and Paul Kostyniak, Ph.D., of the UB Toxicology Research Center.

University at Buffalo

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.

Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.

Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.

Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to