Chlordecone exposure and risk of prostate cancer

J Clin Oncol. 2010 Jul 20;28(21):3457-62. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2009.27.2153. Epub 2010 Jun 21.


Purpose: Determining whether environmental estrogens are associated with the risk of prostate cancer may have important implications for our general understanding of this disease. The estrogenic insecticide chlordecone was used extensively in the French West Indies, contaminating the population for more than 30 years. We analyzed the relationship between exposure to chlordecone and the risk of prostate cancer.

Patients and methods: We investigated 623 men with prostate cancer and 671 controls. Exposure was analyzed according to case-control status, using either current plasma concentration or a cumulative exposure index based on years of exposure. We genotyped two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (rs3829125 and rs17134592) in the gene encoding chlordecone reductase.

Results: We found a significant increase in the risk of prostate cancer with increasing plasma chlordecone concentration (odds ratio [OR], 1.77; 95% CI, 1.21 to 2.58 for the highest tertile of values above the limit of detection [LD]; P trend = .002) and for cumulative exposure index (OR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.04 to 2.88 for the highest quartile; P trend = .004). Stronger associations were observed among those with a positive family history of prostate cancer and among those who had lived in a Western country. The rs3829125 and rs17134592 allele variants were in complete linkage disequilibrium and were found at low frequency (0.04). Among subjects with plasma chlordecone concentrations above the LD, carriers of the allele variants had a higher risk of prostate cancer (OR, 5.23; 95% CI, 0.82 to 33.32).

Conclusion: These findings support the hypothesis that exposure to environmental estrogens increases the risk of prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chlordecone / blood
  • Chlordecone / toxicity*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / agonists
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / chemically induced*


  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Insecticides
  • Oxidoreductases
  • trans-1,2-dihydrobenzene-1,2-diol dehydrogenase
  • Chlordecone