Case-control study on concentrations of organohalogen compounds and titers of antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus antigens in the etiology of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Leuk Lymphoma. 2001 Aug;42(4):619-29. doi: 10.3109/10428190109099322.


A rapid increase in incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) has been reported from many countries. Exposure to certain pesticides and organochlorines has been shown to be risk factors. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a human herpesvirus that has been associated with some subgroups of NHL, such as Burkitt lymphoma and lymphomas related to severe immunosuppression. In this study, we measured lipid adjusted blood concentrations of 36 congeners of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), p,p'-dichlorodiphenyl-dichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), four different subgroups of chlordanes (trans-nonachlordane, cis-nonachlordane, MC6 and oxychlordane) and 2,2',4,4'-tetrabrominated diphenyl ether (TBDE) in incident cases of NHL and controls from the general population. Titers of antibodies to the Epstein-Barr early antigen (EA) were correlated to concentrations of organochlorines. We found a significant difference in lipid adjusted blood concentrations of total PCBs and TBDE between cases and controls. Titers of antibodies to EA IgG > 80 were correlated to an increased risk for NHL with odds ratio (OR) = 1.9, 95% confidence interval (CI) =0.94-3.8. This risk was further increased in those with a level above the median value of "sum of PCBs" (OR=4.0, CI=1.2-14), HCB (OR=5.3, CI=1.6-19), sum of chlordanes (OR=4.0, CI=1.2-14) and TBDE (OR=21, CI=4.6-124), suggesting an interaction between EBV and a higher concentration of these chemicals. Also for the "sum of immunotoxic PCBs" increased risk was found in that group (OR=6.4, CI=1.9-24). Subdivision of NHL in histological types yielded highest risks for low-grade B-cell NHL.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chlordan / analogs & derivatives
  • Chlordan / blood
  • Chlordan / toxicity
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / blood
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / toxicity
  • Drug Interactions
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Fungicides, Industrial / blood
  • Fungicides, Industrial / toxicity
  • Hexachlorobenzene / blood
  • Hexachlorobenzene / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / toxicity
  • Insecticides / blood
  • Insecticides / toxicity
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / chemically induced*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / etiology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / virology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity
  • Risk Factors


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Epstein-Barr virus early antigen
  • Fungicides, Industrial
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Insecticides
  • Chlordan
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls