Organochlorine exposure and breast cancer survival

J Clin Epidemiol. 2000 Mar 1;53(3):323-30. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(99)00165-1.


Recent research suggests that exposure to organochlorines, such as dieldrin that possess estrogenic properties, may increase the risk of breast cancer by promoting growth of malignant cells. Whether this potential also affects malignant cells not eradicated by treatment, and thereby survival, is unknown. To evaluate this blood samples from female participants in the Copenhagen City Heart Study, Denmark, were analyzed for organochlorines. A total of 195 breast cancer cases, who each provided two blood samples that were taken in 1976-78 and 1981-83, respectively, were included in the survival analysis. Dieldrin had a significant adverse effect on overall survival and breast cancer specific survival (RR, 2.78, 95% CI, 1. 38-5.59, P trend < 0.01; RR, 2.61, 95% CI, 0.97-7.01, P trend < 0. 01). This association was strengthened when exposure was assessed as the average serum concentration of the two measurements. These findings suggest that past exposure to estrogenic organochlorines such as dieldrin may not only affect the risk of developing breast cancer but also the survival.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / adverse effects*
  • Insecticides / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / adverse effects*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood
  • Registries
  • Risk
  • Survival Analysis


  • Insecticides
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls