Racial differences in levels of serum lipids and effects of exposure to persistent organic pollutants on lipid levels in residents of Anniston, Alabama

Environ Int. 2014 Dec;73:216-23. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2014.07.022. Epub 2014 Aug 20.


Serum lipid levels are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In addition to diet, exercise, genetics, age and race, serum concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) influence concentrations of serum lipids. We investigated associations between fasting concentrations of 35 polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners and nine organochlorine pesticides in relation to total serum lipids, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and triglycerides in 525 Caucasian and African American residents of Anniston, Alabama, who were not on any lipid-lowering medication. In Model 1, data were adjusted for age, age quadratic, gender, BMI, alcohol consumption, smoking and exercise, while in Model 2, additional adjustment was done for other POPs. As compared to Caucasians, African Americans had lower levels of total lipids and triglycerides with higher concentrations of HDL cholesterol, but higher concentrations of PCBs and pesticides. Total pesticides were more strongly associated with elevations in serum lipids than were total PCBs, and the associations were stronger in African Americans. Total DDTs were not associated with serum lipids after adjustment for other POPs in either racial group, while the strongest positive associations were seen for hexachlorobenzene (HCB) in both racial groups. Racial differences in lipid profiles, concentrations of POPs and associations between POP concentrations and serum lipids are relevant to racial differences in rates of cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Cholesterol; HDL; PCBs; Pesticides; Triglycerides.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Alabama
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticides / blood*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Pesticides
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls