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Int J Cancer. 2011 Apr 15;128(8):1872-80. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25503.

Plasma levels of polychlorinated biphenyls and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma: a preliminary study.

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  • 1Cancer Control Research Program, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


A number of epidemiologic studies have suggested that exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and other organochlorine compounds (OCC) increase risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM). However, these studies have generally had no biologic measure of OCC exposure, and have been unable to control for sun exposure, the major known environmental risk factor for this disease. This preliminary study examined the relationship between OCC residues in plasma and risk of CMM adjusting for sun sensitivity and sun exposure. A case-control study of 80 CMM patients and 310 control subjects was conducted. Lifetime sun exposure information, along with data on pigmentation variables and sun sensitivity data was collected, along with a blood sample. Cases and controls were assayed for plasma levels of 14 PCB congeners and 11 organochlorine pesticide residues using gas chromatography. Strong associations were seen between risk of CMM and plasma levels of non-dioxin-like PCBs (Adjusted OR = 7.02; 95% CI: 2.30-21.43 for highest quartile) and several PCB congeners, organochlorine pesticides or metabolites. These associations persisted after control for sun sensitivity and sun exposure. Results from this investigation require independent confirmation in larger studies. However, they suggest that environmental factors other than UV radiation may play a role in genesis of CMM, and indicate that it may be productive to search for further agents which might increase risk.

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