Background: Organochlorine compounds, including organochlorine pesticides, have been suggested by some, but not all, studies to be associated with female breast-cancer risk. So far, studies relating organochlorine compounds and breast-cancer risk have mainly focused on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) as risk factors for female breast cancer. This paper examines the hypothesis that environmental exposure to trans-nonachlor (TNC) and oxychlordane (OCD), a major metabolite of the insecticide chlordane, increases the
Methods: A total of 304 histologically confirmed, incident primary breast-cancer patients and 186 histologically confirmed incident benign breast-disease controls were included in the study between 1994 and 1997. Breast adipose tissue not needed for diagnostic purposes was collected and analysed for TNC, OCD and other organochlorine compounds. A standardised, structured questionnaire was used to obtain information on major known, or suspected, risk factors for breast cancer.
Results: The age and lipid-adjusted geometric mean adipose-tissue levels of OCD were similar between the cases [36.4 p.p.b., 95% confidence interval (CI) 34.7-38.2 p.p.b.] and controls (38.0 p.p.b., 95% Cl 35.7-40.6 p.p.b.). The age and lipid-adjusted geometric mean adipose-tissue levels of TNC between the cases (55.5 p.p.b., 95% CI 52.6-58.5 p.p.b.) and controls (58.1 p.p.b., 95% CI 54.2-62.3 p.p.b.) were also similar. There was no association between breast-cancer risk and mean adipose-tissue levels of OCD and TNC. The covariate-adjusted odds ratio (OR) was 0.7 (95% CI 0.4-1.3) for OCD and 1.1 (95% CI 0.6-1.9) for TNC, when the highest quartile was compared with the lowest. The risk also did not vary based on oestrogen or progesterone receptor status or menopausal status.
Discussion: We found no significantly increased risk of breast cancer associated with breast adipose-tissue levels of OCD or TNC; this is consistent with recent epidemiological studies, indicating that environmental exposure to organochlorine compounds does not have an overall significant impact on breast-cancer risk.