Organochlorines and Breast Cancer Risk

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Abstract

Organochlorines are a diverse group of synthetic chemicals that include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and organochlorine pesticides such as dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), lindane, and hexachlorobenzene. Although use of DDT and PCBs has been banned in the United States since the 1970s, some organochlorine compounds have accumulated and persisted within the environment. As a result, measurable amounts can still be found in human tissue. Because some organochlorine compounds act as estrogen agonists or antagonists within in vitro and experimental animal systems, a possible association of breast cancer risk with organochlorine exposure has been hypothesized and investigated. Although a few studies support this hypothesis, the vast majority of epidemiological studies do not. While some of these compounds may have other adverse environmental or health effects, organochlorine exposure is not believed to be causally related to breast cancer. Women concerned about possible organochlorine exposure can be reassured that available evidence does not suggest an association between these chemicals and breast cancer.

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