Skip to main content
An official website of the United States government
Grant Details

Grant Number: 5R01CA072919-03 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Cohn, Barbara
Organization: Public Health Institute
Project Title: Breast Cancer and Organochlorines
Fiscal Year: 1999


DESCRIPTION: (Adapted from Applicant's Abstract). Recent publication of the only two prospective studies of the relation of organochlorine exposure to breast cancer demonstrates need for more research. The findings of the two prior studies conflict: only one found increased risk associated with DDE. The only race-specific study found a protective association for poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Whites, and a suggestion of increase risk associated with PCBs among Blacks. The proposed study seeks to help resolve these discrepant findings. This prospective, nested case-control epidemiological study will be the first to investigate the relationship of exposure to 1,1-dichloro-2,2'-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-ethylene (DDE) and the PCBs during pregnancy to breast cancer incidence. The study population is a subset (N=275 case-control pairs) of the Child Health and Development Studies. Women enrolled during pregnancy from 1959-1967 and were followed for subsequent breast cancer by linkage to the California Cancer Registry. The study has the following aims: 1) assay frozen serum samples obtained during pregnancy for DDE and PCB; 2) test these hypotheses: a) organochlorine levels during pregnancy are associated with subsequent breast cancer' b) birth cohorts exposed to DDE prior to puberty show a stronger association between DDE and breast cancer than birth cohorts exposed after puberty; c) associations between organochlorine exposure and breast cancer are strongest among primigravidas; analyses in primigravidas may be most sensitive for detection of organochlorine effects because these analyses will capture both cumulative pubertal exposure and total exposure present prior to breast differentiation that follow first pregnancy; d) total PCBs are associated with increased breast cancer risk for Blacks and decreased risk for Whites; e) some PCB congeners are associated with decreased breast cancer risk while others are associated with increased risk; and f) race differences in the composition of total PCBs explain race differences in associations between total PCBs and breast cancer. The study will be the first to: 1) measure organochlorine exposure during pregnancy; and 2) consider timing of exposure in relation to puberty. Puberty and pregnancy are periods of increased vulnerability to carcinogenesis.


Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners measured shortly after giving birth and subsequent risk of maternal breast cancer before age 50.
Authors: Cohn B.A. , Terry M.B. , Plumb M. , Cirillo P.M. .
Source: Breast cancer research and treatment, 2012 Nov; 136(1), p. 267-75.
EPub date: 2012-09-28.
PMID: 23053646
Related Citations

Assaying organochlorines in archived serum for a large, long-term cohort: implications of combining assay results from multiple laboratories over time.
Authors: Sholtz R.I. , McLaughlin K.R. , Cirillo P.M. , Petreas M. , Park J.S. , Wolff M.S. , Factor-Litvak P. , Eskenazi B. , Krigbaum N. , Cohn B.A. .
Source: Environment international, 2011 May; 37(4), p. 709-14.
EPub date: 2011-02-18.
PMID: 21333355
Related Citations

Developmental and environmental origins of breast cancer: DDT as a case study.
Authors: Cohn B.A. .
Source: Reproductive toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.), 2011 Apr; 31(3), p. 302-11.
EPub date: 2010-10-19.
PMID: 20965245
Related Citations

DDT and breast cancer in young women: new data on the significance of age at exposure.
Authors: Cohn B.A. , Wolff M.S. , Cirillo P.M. , Sholtz R.I. .
Source: Environmental health perspectives, 2007 Oct; 115(10), p. 1406-14.
PMID: 17938728
Related Citations

Placental characteristics and reduced risk of maternal breast cancer.
Authors: Cohn B.A. , Cirillo P.M. , Christianson R.E. , van den Berg B.J. , Siiteri P.K. .
Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2001-08-01; 93(15), p. 1133-40.
PMID: 11481384
Related Citations

Back to Top