Serum Levels of Commonly Detected Persistent Organic Pollutants and Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) and Mammographic Density in Postmenopausal Women

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jan 17;17(2):606. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17020606.


There are little epidemiological data on the impact of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and endocrine disruptors on mammographic density (MD), a strong predictor of breast cancer. We assessed MD in 116 non-Hispanic white post-menopausal women for whom serum concentrations of 23 commonly detected chemicals including 3 polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), 8 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), and 12 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) had been measured. Linear regression analyses adjusting for potential confounders were used to examine the associations between the levels of the chemical compounds, modeled as continuous and dichotomized (above/below median) variables, and square-root-transformed MD. None of the associations were statistically significant after correcting for multiple testing. Prior to correction for multiple testing, all chemicals with un-corrected p-values < 0.05 had regression coefficients less than zero, suggesting inverse associations between increased levels and MD, if any. The smallest p-value was observed for PCB-153 (regression coefficient for above-median vs. below-median levels: -0.87, un-corrected p = 0.008). Neither parity nor body mass index modified the associations. Our results do not support an association between higher MD and serum levels of PBDEs, PCBs, or PFASs commonly detected in postmenopausal women.

Keywords: mammographic density; per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances; persistent organic pollutants; polybrominated diphenyl ethers; polychlorinated biphenyls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Density*
  • California
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Fluorocarbons / blood*
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / blood*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers