Effects of long-term oral administration of DDT on nonhuman primates

J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 1999;125(3-4):219-25. doi: 10.1007/s004320050266.


Because of reports on tumorigenic activity in different animal species exposed to DDT a decision was made in 1969 to evaluate the long-term effects of DDT on 24 cynomolgus and rhesus monkeys. DDT (20 mg/kg) was given in the diet for 130 months, followed by an observation period that ended in 1994. The two cases of malignant tumor detected in the DDT group included a metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma in a 233-month-old male and a well-differentiated adenocarcinoma of the prostate in a 212-month-old monkey. Benign tumors detected in the DDT group included three cases of leiomyoma, two of which were uterine and one, esophageal. No tumor was detected in the control group of 17 monkeys. Fatty changes in the liver were observed in 52.9% of the DDT group and 29.4% of the control group. More specific signs of hepatotoxicity were documented microscopically in seven DDT monkeys. Severe tremors and histological evidence of CNS and spinal cord abnormalities were observed in six DDT monkeys. The present findings show clear evidence of hepatic and CNS toxicity following long-term DDT administration to cynomolgus and rhesus monkeys. However, the two cases involving malignant tumors of different types are inconclusive with respect to a carcinogenic effect of DDT in nonhuman primates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / chemically induced
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • DDT / blood
  • DDT / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Insecticides / blood
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Leiomyoma / chemically induced
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / drug effects
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced*
  • Ovary / drug effects
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Time Factors
  • Uterine Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Uterus / drug effects


  • Carcinogens
  • Insecticides
  • DDT