Breast Cancer Linked To DDT?
was banned in The United States in 1972 because of the possible
health effects on humans and other animals. It may cause cancer
in the breast and other organs.
years later, the debate is still raging about whether banning the
use of DDT as a pesticide was a necessary step.
is still being used in many countries. DDT is one of the most effective
tools in fighting the mosquito borne disease, malaria.
malaria is not a major problem in the United States, there are many
countries where it is a deadly epidemic. Thousands of children under
three years old are dying from being bitten by mosquitos that spread
has been strongly linked to increased breast cancer risk.
residue of DDT mimics estrogen and tends to be stored in fatty tissue
which makes the breast a perfect storage place.
balance of increased risk of future breast cancer from DDT residues
and the immediate benefits of reduction in deaths and suffering
from malaria makes banning this chemical difficult.
to a study of 159 women reported in Occupational and Environmental
Medicine, women with breast cancer are five times as likely
to have DDT pesticide residues in their blood.
residues of organochlorines (DDT), contain estrogens the female
hormone that has been shown to contribute to higher risk of breast
possibility of a link between DDT and breast cancer has attracted
controversy, admit the authors, but say that their new study adds
to the growing body of evidence for an association between environmental
estrogens and the rising incidence of breast cancer.
authors base their findings on a study of 600 women referred to
one hospital in Liége, Belgium for breast lumps between September
1999 and February 2000.
this group, 159 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently
admitted for the removal of the tumor or the whole breast. The womens
average age of the women who were found to have breast cancer was
surgery or drug treatment, the women were tested for total levels
of organocholorines (DDT) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) in their blood.
was done to ensure that the results would not be affected by weight
changes brought about by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Changes
in weight result in altering the levels of fatty tissue where the
residue of DDT accumulates.
DDT was effectively banned for use as a pesticide in the US in 1972,
it was used for almost 30 years. Residues from DDT can remain active
in body tissues for up to 50 years.
blood samples from the breast cancer group were compared with those
taken from 250 healthy women, matched as closely as possible for
age, menopausal status, reproductive history, and smoking habit.
results showed significant differences between the two groups of
with breast cancer were more than five times as likely to have detectable
levels of DDT (above 0.5 parts per billion) as the healthy women.
The breast cancer group was also found to be more than nine times
as likely to have detectable levels of HCB in their blood.
highest levels detected were 20 parts per billion.
womens breast tumors are sensitized to, and sustained by,
estrogen, but DDT or HCB levels were no higher for the 102 women
in this study who had estrogen sensitive breast cancer.
authors are quick to point out that while their research does not
prove a definitive link between estrogenic pesticide residues and
breast cancer, there is plenty of published evidence on the ability
of hormones to promote animal and human cancers.
has shown that DDT, and its major metabolite DDE, do have estrogenic
on the Web:
& Breast Cancer Risk
(dicophane) and postmenopausal breast cancer in Europe
Discounts DDT Role in Breast Cancer
Last Updated April 21, 2017