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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 Nov;9(11):1233-40.

Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene, polychlorinated biphenyls, and breast cancer among African-American and white women in North Carolina.

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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7400, USA.


We examined plasma dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene (DDE) and total polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) levels in relation to breast cancer in a population-based, case-control study of African-American women (292 cases and 270 controls) and white women (456 cases and 389 controls) in North Carolina. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for breast cancer comparing the highest to lowest third of DDE were 1.41 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.87-2.29] in African-American women and 0.98 (95% CI, 0.67-1.43) in white women. ORs comparing the highest to lowest third of total PCBs were 1.74 (95% CI, 1.00-3.01) in African-American women and 1.03 (95% CI, 0.68-1.56) in white women. Among African-Americans, the OR for total PCBs was highest for obese women (body mass index 234.2; OR, 4.92; 95% CI, 1.63-14.83). In contrast, the OR for DDE was highest for the leanest African-American women (body mass index, <25; OR, 3.84; 95% CI, 0.98-15.08). ORs for DDE were not elevated among women who lived or worked on farms or elevated among farming women who reported exposure to pesticides. Our results suggest absence of a strong effect for DDE or total PCBs in breast cancer but lend support for associations among subgroups of women. In our study, factors such as income, parity, breastfeeding, race/ethnicity, and body mass index influenced the relationship of organochlorines and breast cancer. Differing distributions of such factors may explain some of the inconsistencies across previous studies.

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