Persistent Organic Pollutants and Breast Cancer Risk

Principal Investigator:
Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D., David O. Nelson, Ph.D.
Myrto Petreas, Ph.D. (CalEPA), Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D. (City of Hope National Medical Center), Hoda Anton-Culver, Ph.D. (University of California, Irvine)
Funding Source:
California Breast Cancer Research Program
Funding Period:
Study Website:
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemicals (including dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)) first introduced after WWII but banned in the 1970s due to potential health dangers. However, because these chemicals do not degrade in nature, exposure continues decades later. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are newer POPs, introduced in the late 1970s as flame retardants.  With their presence in furnishings, PBDEs may be poised to become the PCBs of the 21st century.  In addition, brominated flame retardants (BFRs) also have gone into recent widespread use.

POPs may play an important role in breast cancer causation because they are hormone-disrupting, but they have been little studied.  This study uses the California Teachers Study cohort to evaluate the risk of breast cancer associated with blood levels of both the older and newer POPs.  It will be the first large-scale investigation of how PBDEs and replacement BFRs may impact breast cancer risk.  It also will provide key information on the determinants of PBDE/BFR human exposures and how these differ among different communities. This information is essential for regulatory action to curb exposures to these chemicals.

© Cancer Prevention Institute of California