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Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Sep 1;180(5):490-8. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwu160. Epub 2014 Aug 5.

Serum dioxin concentrations and thyroid hormone levels in the Seveso Women's Health Study.


2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is a persistent environmental contaminant. Although experimental evidence suggests that TCDD alters thyroid hormone levels in rodents, human data are inconsistent. In 1976, a trichlorophenol plant exploded in Seveso, Italy. Women living in highly exposed areas were followed through the Seveso Women's Health Study. TCDD concentrations were measured in 1976 (n = 981) and 1996 (n = 260), and levels of total thyroxine, free thyroxine, free triiodothyronine, and thyroid-stimulating hormone were measured in 1996 (n = 909) and 2008 (n = 724). We used conditional multiple linear regression and marginal structural models with inverse-probability-of-treatment weights to evaluate associations and causal effects. TCDD concentration in 1976 was inversely associated with total thyroxine level in 1996 but not in 2008. Associations were stronger among women who had been exposed before menarche. Among these women, associations between total thyroxine and concurrent 1996 TCDD were slightly weaker than those with 1976 TCDD. A model including both 1976 and 1996 measurements strengthened the relationship between 1976 TCDD and total thyroxine but drove the association with 1996 TCDD to the null. TCDD exposure was not associated with levels of other thyroid hormones. TCDD exposure, particularly exposure before menarche, may have enduring impacts on women's total thyroxine levels. Initial exposure appears to be more influential than remaining body burden.


TCDD; accidents; dioxin; endocrine disruptors; environmental exposure; thyroid hormones

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