Background: Growing evidence demonstrates that exposure to organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs) is widespread and that these chemicals can alter thyroid hormone regulation and function. We investigated the relationship between PFR exposure and thyroid cancer and whether individual or temporal factors predict PFR exposure.
Methods: We analyzed interview data and spot urine samples collected in 2010-2013 from 100 incident female, papillary thyroid cancer cases and 100 female controls of a Connecticut-based thyroid cancer case-control study. We measured urinary concentrations of six PFR metabolites with mass spectrometry. We estimated odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for continuous and categories (low, medium, high) of concentrations of individual and summed metabolites, adjusting for potential confounders. We examined relationships between concentrations of PFR metabolites and individual characteristics (age, smoking status, alcohol consumption, body mass index [BMI], income, education) and temporal factors (season, year) using multiple linear regression analysis.
Results: No PFRs were significantly associated with papillary thyroid cancer risk. Results remained null when stratified by microcarcinomas (tumor diameter ≤ 1 cm) and larger tumor sizes (> 1 cm). We observed higher urinary PFR concentrations with increasing BMI and in the summer season.
Conclusions: Urinary PFR concentrations, measured at time of diagnosis, are not linked to increased risk of thyroid cancer. Investigations in a larger population or with repeated pre-diagnosis urinary biomarker measurements would provide additional insights into the relationship between PFR exposure and thyroid cancer risk.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Endocrine disruptor; Environmental exposures; Flame retardants; Thyroid cancer; Women’s health.