Comparison of organochlorine pesticide and polychlorinated biphenyl residues in human breast adipose tissue and serum

J Toxicol Environ Health. 1997 Nov;52(4):285-93. doi: 10.1080/00984109708984065.


The presence of organochlorine pesticides, such as p,p'-DDT[2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethanel, and of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in human serum and adipose tissue has been reported in many studies over the last four decades. Recently, debate has heightened concerning the link of these compounds to breast cancer. To clarify and resolve this issue, accurate analytical residue data must be obtained. Separation of the organochlorine pesticides from the PCBs in breast tissue is critical to obtaining valid residue data. Based on methods refined in the Analytical Laboratory at Colorado State University, accurate residue levels were established for nine individual PCB congeners and eight organochlorine pesticides. The breast adipose tissue method used was a modification of the Mills et al. and de Faubert Maunder et al. methods. The serum method employed was a modification of the Burse et al. method. Both breast adipose tissue and serum from 36 women were analyzed, and correlations of the residues from the two substrates were evaluated. Serum concentrations of p,p'-DDE, the primary metabolite of p,p'-DDT, were correlated (alpha = .05) with the concentrations of p,p'-DDE in human breast adipose tissue (r = .808). Serum concentrations of the PCB congener BZ 153 were also significantly correlated to the human breast adipose tissue concentrations of BZ 153 (r = .377). No significant relationship was found between serum concentrations and tissue residues for 15 of the 17 compounds analyzed. This lack of correlation between breast adipose tissue and serum, as well as an absence of the compound residues in serum, emphasized that adipose tissue should be analyzed in addition to serum to fully understand the relationship of the organochlorine compounds to breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Burden
  • Breast / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • DDT / analysis
  • DDT / blood
  • DDT / metabolism
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / analysis*
  • Insecticides / blood*
  • Insecticides / metabolism
  • Linear Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis*
  • Pesticide Residues / blood*
  • Pesticide Residues / metabolism
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / metabolism


  • Insecticides
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • DDT
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls