Perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctanesulfonate plasma levels and risk of cancer in the general Danish population

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 Apr 15;101(8):605-9. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djp041. Epub 2009 Apr 7.


Perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctanesulfonate are used in many industrial products and have been widely detected in human blood. Both chemicals are associated with tumor development in animal studies, but data on carcinogenic potential in humans are sparse. We investigated the association between plasma levels of perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctanesulfonate and cancer risk within a prospective Danish cohort of participants with no previous cancer diagnosis at enrollment. From enrollment, between December 1, 1993, and May 31, 1997, and through July 1, 2006, we identified 713 participants with prostate cancer, 332 with bladder cancer, 128 with pancreatic cancer, and 67 with liver cancer in the entire cohort and we selected a comparison subcohort of 772. Plasma concentrations of perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctanesulfonate were measured in each participant by use of high-pressure liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry. We found no clear differences in incidence rate ratios for these cancers in relation to plasma concentrations of perfluorooctanoate or perfluorooctanesulfonate. A 30%-40% increase in risk estimates for prostate cancer was observed for the three upper quartiles of perfluorooctanesulfonate concentration compared with the lowest quartile (eg, for the lowest vs the fourth quartile, incidence rate ratio = 1.38, 95% confidence interval = 0.99 to 1.93). Plasma concentrations of perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctanesulfonate in the general Danish population appear not to be associated with risk of prostate, bladder, pancreatic, or liver cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / blood*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Caprylates / blood*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / blood*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / blood*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / blood
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / epidemiology


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Caprylates
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid