Bone mineral density changes in relation to environmental PCB exposure

Susan Hodgson, Laura Thomas, Elena Fattore, P. Monica Lind, Tobias Alfven, Lennart Hellström, Helen Håkansson, Grazia Carubelli, Roberto Fanelli, Lars Jarup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Bone toxicity has been linked to organochlorine exposure following a few notable poisoning incidents, but epidemiologic studies in populations with environmental organochlorine exposure have yielded inconsistent results. Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate whether organochlorine exposure was associated with bone mineral density (BMD) in a population 60-81 years of age (154 males, 167 females) living near the Baltic coast, close to a river contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Methods: We measured forearm BMD in participants using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry; and we assessed low BMD using age- and sex-standardized Z-scores. We analyzed blood samples for five dioxin-like PCBs, the three most abundant non-dioxin-like PCBs, and p,p'-dichlorophenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE). Results: In males, dioxin-like chlorobiphenyl (CB)-118 was negatively associated with BMD; the odds ratio for low BMD (Z-score less than -1) was 1.06 (95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.12) per 10 pg/mL CB-118. The sum of the three most abundant non-dioxin-like PCBs was positively associated with BMD, but not with a decreased risk of low BMD. In females, CB-118 was positively associated with BMD, but this congener did not influence the risk of low BMD in women. Conclusions: Environmental organochlorine exposures experienced by this population sample since the 1930s in Sweden may have been sufficient to result in sex-specific changes in BMD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1162-1166
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008


  • Bone mineral density
  • p,p'-DDE
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Toxic equivalents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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