Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 29–39 | Cite as

Serum organochlorines and breast cancer: a case–control study among African-American women

  • Nicole M. Gatto
  • Matthew P. Longnecker
  • Michael F. Press
  • Jane Sullivan-Halley
  • Roberta McKean-Cowdin
  • Leslie Bernstein


This population-based case–control study of African-American women (355 breast cancer case patients, 327 controls) examined the association between breast cancer and circulating levels of PCBs and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene (DDE), a metabolite of DDT. Case patients were diagnosed with invasive breast carcinoma and interviewed between June 1995 and July 1998, and control subjects were identified by random digit dialing methods. Serum levels of DDE and total PCBs were adjusted for total lipid content. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using multivariable unconditional logistic regression methods. Effect modification by tumor receptor status and cancer treatment was investigated. Breast cancer risk was not associated with increasing quintiles of lipid-adjusted PCBs or DDE (highest versus lowest quintile adjusted for age, body mass index (BMI) and breastfeeding for DDE: OR = 1.02, 95% CI = (0.61, 1.72), p-trend = 0.74; for PCBs: OR = 1.01, 95% CI = (0.63, 1.63), p-trend = 0.56). Risk did not differ by strata of BMI, breastfeeding, parity, menopausal status or tumor receptor status. This study, the largest study of African-American women to date, does not support a role of DDE and total PCBs in breast cancer risk at the levels measured.


Organochlorines Breast cancer African-Americans DDT DDE PCBs Pesticides Cancer Women 



This study was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with additional support from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), through a contract with the University of Southern California University of Southern California (N01 HD 3–3175), by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), ES07084, and in part by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, NIEHS. General support from NCI through the SEER Program contract to the Cancer Surveillance Program for Los Angeles County (N01-CN-67010) is also acknowledged. The collection of cancer incidence data for Los Angeles County used in this publication was also supported by the California Department of Health Services as part of the statewide cancer reporting program mandated by the California Health and Safety Code Section 103885. The ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors, and no endorsement by the State of California, Department of Health Services, is intended or should be inferred.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole M. Gatto
    • 1
  • Matthew P. Longnecker
    • 2
  • Michael F. Press
    • 3
  • Jane Sullivan-Halley
    • 1
  • Roberta McKean-Cowdin
    • 1
  • Leslie Bernstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Preventive MedicineKeck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, USC/Norris Comprehensive CenterLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health and Human ServicesNational Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of HealthResearch Triangle ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of PathologyKeck School of Medicine of the University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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