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Environ Health. 2006 Dec 21;5:33.

Plasma organochlorine concentrations and bone ultrasound measurements: a cross-sectional study in peri-and postmenopausal Inuit women from Greenland.

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  • 1Unité de recherche en Santé publique, Centre de recherche du CHUL-CHUQ, Québec, QC, G1V 5B3, Canada.



Inuit women are highly exposed through their traditional seafood based diet to organochlorine compounds, some of them displaying endocrine disrupting properties. We hypothesized that this exposure might be related to bone characteristics that are altered in osteoporosis, because hormone deficiency is a known risk factor for the disease.


We measured quantitative ultrasound parameters (QUS) at the right calcaneum of 153 peri- and postmenopausal Inuit women (49-64 year old) from Nuuk, Greenland, and investigated the relation between these parameters and plasma organochlorine concentrations. We used high-resolution gas chromatography with electron capture detection to analyze plasma samples for 14 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) congeners and 11 chlorinated pesticides and metabolites. We analysed morning urine samples for cadmium, a potential confounder, by atomic absorption spectrometry. We used a validated questionnaire to document dietary and lifestyle habits as well as reproductive and medical histories.


Concentrations of PCB 153, a surrogate of exposure to most organochlorines present in plasma samples, were inversely correlated to QUS parameters in univariate analyses (p < 0.001). However, PCB 153 concentrations were not associated with QUS values in multivariate analyses that comprised potential confounding factors such as age, body weight, former oral contraceptive use and current hormone replacement therapy (HRT) use, which were all significant predictors of bone stiffness (total R2 = 0.39; p < 0.001).


Overall we found little evidence that organochlorines exposure is related to osteoporosis in Greenlandic Inuit women, but the hypothesis that exposure to dioxin-like compounds might be linked to decreased bone quality and osteoporosis deserves further attention.

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