Nav: Home

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.
-end-


University at Buffalo

Related Breast Cancer Articles:

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.
Does MRI plus mammography improve detection of new breast cancer after breast conservation therapy?
A new article published by JAMA Oncology compares outcomes for combined mammography and MRI or ultrasonography screenings for new breast cancers in women who have previously undergone breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer initially diagnosed at 50 or younger.
More Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.