Why pesticides could be a common cause of prostate and breast cancers in the French Caribbean Island, Martinique. An overview on key mechanisms of pesticide-induced cancer

Biomed Pharmacother. 2009 Jul;63(6):383-95. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2009.04.043. Epub 2009 Jun 12.


Prostate and breast cancers have become very frequent in Martinique. We previously conducted a multifactorial analysis in the French Caribbean Island, Martinique, in order to elucidate the aetiology of prostate cancer. Using a linear regression analysis, we found that the growth curves of incidence rates for Martinique and metropolitan France have been significantly diverging since 1983. Although a Caribbean genetic susceptibility factor may be involved in prostate carcinogenesis: this factor, because it could not have changed during the observation period, cannot per se account for the growing incidence of this cancer in the island. We therefore suggested that among possible environmental factors, the intensive and prolonged exposure to Carcinogenic, Mutagenic and/or Reprotoxic (CMR) or presumed CMR pesticides may account for the observed growing incidence of prostate cancer and thus may be involved in prostate carcinogenesis. In this study, we further attempt to show that due to their carcinogenic properties, pesticides and especially organochlorine pesticides may in fact be causally implicated in the growing incidence of prostate cancer in Martinique. Also, we suggest that CMR or presumed CMR pesticides may be causally involved in the growing incidence of breast cancer through a common endocrine disruption mechanism. We therefore propose that protective medical recommendations should be immediately set up and carried out by general practitioners, paediatricians, obstetricians, gynaecologists and urologists; and that public health measures of primary precaution and prevention should be urgently taken in close collaboration with health professionals in order to protect population, more especially pregnant women and children, with the final objective perhaps that these medical recommendations and public health measures will stop Martinique's cancer epidemic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • Child
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / toxicity
  • Male
  • Martinique / epidemiology
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology


  • Carcinogens
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides