Complex organochlorine pesticide mixtures as determinant factor for breast cancer risk: a population-based case-control study in the Canary Islands (Spain)

Environ Health. 2012 Apr 25;11:28. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-11-28.


Background: All the relevant risk factors contributing to breast cancer etiology are not fully known. Exposure to organochlorine pesticides has been linked to an increased incidence of the disease, although not all data have been consistent. Most published studies evaluated the exposure to organochlorines individually, ignoring the potential effects exerted by the mixtures of chemicals.

Methods: This population-based study was designed to evaluate the profile of mixtures of organochlorines detected in 103 healthy women and 121 women diagnosed with breast cancer from Gran Canaria Island, and the relation between the exposure to these compounds and breast cancer risk.

Results: The most prevalent mixture of organochlorines among healthy women was the combination of lindane and endrin, and this mixture was not detected in any affected women. Breast cancer patients presented more frequently a combination of aldrin, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDD), and this mixture was not found in any healthy woman. After adjusting for covariables, the risk of breast cancer was moderately associated with DDD (OR = 1.008, confidence interval 95% 1.001-1.015, p = 0.024).

Conclusions: This study indicates that healthy women show a very different profile of organochlorine pesticide mixtures than breast cancer patients, suggesting that organochlorine pesticide mixtures could play a relevant role in breast cancer risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / toxicity*
  • Incidence
  • Insecticides / blood
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Statistical
  • Risk Factors
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Insecticides