Scientific certainty regarding environmental toxin-related etiologies of breast cancer, particularly among women with genetic polymorphisms in estrogen metabolizing enzymes, is lacking. Fungicides have been recognized for their carcinogenic potential, yet there is a paucity of epidemiological studies examining the health risks of these agents. The association between agricultural fungicide exposure and breast cancer risk was examined in a secondary analysis of a province-wide breast cancer case-control study in Prince Edward Island (PEI) Canada. Specific objectives were: (1) to derive and examine the level of association between estimated fungicide exposures, and breast cancer risk among women in PEI; and (2) to assess the potential for gene-environment interactions between fungicide exposure and a CYP1A1 polymorphism in cases versus controls. After 1:3 matching of 207 cases to 621 controls by age, family history of breast cancer and menopausal status, fungicide exposure was not significantly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (OR = 0.74; 95% CI: 0.46-1.17). Moreover, no statistically significant interactions between fungicide exposure and CYP1A1*2A were observed. Gene-environment interactions were identified. Though interpretations of findings are challenged by uncertainty of exposure assignment and small sample sizes, this study does provide grounds for further research.
Keywords: GIS-based exposure; breast cancer; cytochrome p-450; epidemiology; estrogen metabolism; fungicides; gene-environment interactions; pesticides.