Environmental exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and breast cancer: a systematic review of the epidemiological evidence.

E. Negri, C. Bosetti, E. Fattore, C. La Vecchia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Some PCB congeners have shown oestrogenic effects, and this has raised concern that they may increase the risk of breast cancer. In this article we provide a quantitative review of the epidemiologic evidence on environmental exposure to PCBs and breast cancer risk. The vast majority of prospective and retrospective studies did not find any association between total PCB concentrations and breast cancer risk. No association was found for congeners in groups I (potentially oestrogenic) and III (biologically persistent phenobarbital-type cytochrome P450 inducers), according to the classification proposed by Wolff and Toniolo, while less consistent results were reported for group II (potentially anti-oestrogenic and immunotoxic, dioxin-like). Two studies found a threefold risk of postmenopausal breast cancer for women with an A2455G base change in exon 7 of the polymorphic CYP1A1 gene (a member of the cytochrome P450 family) and high PCB levels, compared with women with two wild-type alleles and low PCB, based however on very few cases. Thus, the epidemiological evidence does not support the hypothesis of an association of environmental exposure to PCBs in adulthood in the general population and risk of breast cancer, although uncertainties remain for selected subgroups of women or individual PCB congeners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-516
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Prevention
Volume12
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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