Serum levels of polychlorinated biphenyls and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: A hospital-based case-control study

Chemosphere. 2019 Nov;235:969-975. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.06.193. Epub 2019 Jul 1.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Group 1 as carcinogenic to human, based on sufficient evidence in humans of an increased risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma and limited evidence for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). However present findings on the association of PCB exposure and NHL are still controversial. This study examined the relationship between PCB serum levels and risk of NHL in a Northern Italy area (Brescia province), where a chemical factory produced PCBs from 1938 to 1984, causing human contamination. A case-control study of 215 NHL patients and 215 control subjects was conducted. Cases and controls were assayed for serum levels of 33 PCB congeners. No associations were found between risk of NHL and serum levels of total PCBs (OR = 0.51; 95% CI: 0.25-1.04 for highest vs lowest quartile) or specific PCB congeners. The study confirmed a strong association of NHL with HCV infection (OR = 3.60; 95% CI: 1.30-10.02). This case-control study does not support the hypothesis of an association between current serum levels of PCBs and NHL development in the general population.

Keywords: Environmental risk factors; Non-hodgkin lymphoma; Polychlorinated biphenyls.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / blood*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls