Organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in early adulthood and blood lipids over a 23-year follow-up

Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2019 Feb:66:24-35. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2018.12.018. Epub 2018 Dec 23.


Background: Some evidence in humans suggests that persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), may alter the blood lipid composition. This study analyzed associations between serum POPs concentrations in young adulthood with blood lipid levels up to 23 years later.

Methods: Serum POPs were measured in year 2 of follow-up (n = 180 men and women, ages: 20-32y), and plasma lipids in follow-up years 2, 7, 10, 15, 20 and 25. 32 POPs were detectable in ≥75% of participants (23 PCBs, 8 OCPs and PBB-153). We created summary scores for PCBs and OCPs for both wet-weight, and lipid standardized (LP) concentrations. We used repeated measures regression adjusting for demographic factors, BMI, smoking, diabetes status, among others.

Results: We observed positive associations of the 23 LP-PCB score with total cholesterol (βper SD increase [95%CI]: 5.0 mg/dL [0.7, 9.2]), triglycerides (7.8 mg/dL [-0.9, 16.5]), LDL (4.2 mg/dL [0.2, 8.2]), oxidized LDL 3.4 U/L (-0.05, 6.8), and cholesterol/HDL ratio (0.2 [0.02, 0.3]). The associations for triglycerides (14.7 mg/dL [0.4, 20.1]), cholesterol/HDL (0.33 [0.09, 0.56]) and, to some extent, LDL (4.7 md/dL [-1.6, 10.9]) were only observed among participants in the upper 50th percentile of BMI. Non-dioxin-like PCBs had stronger associations that dioxin-like PCBs. OCPs and PBB-s had positive associations with most outcomes.

Conclusions: PCBs and PBB-153 measured in young adulthood were positively associated with prospective alterations in most blood lipid components, with evidence of effect modification by BMI. Further longitudinal studies with multiple measures of POPs overtime are needed.

Keywords: Adults; Lipids; Longitudinal; Organochlorine; PCB.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticides / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Lipids
  • Pesticides