Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of envhperEnvironmental Health PerspectivesBrowse ArticlesAbout EHPGeneral InformationAuthorsMediaProgramsPartnerships
Environ Health Perspect. 2003 February; 111(2): 179–183.
PMCID: PMC1241347
Research Article

Risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prediagnostic serum organochlorines: beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, chlordane/heptachlor-related compounds, dieldrin, and hexachlorobenzene.


Increases in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) incidence and mortality rates during the past few decades remain largely unexplained. Studies suggest that organochlorine pesticides may contribute to an increased risk of NHL. In 1974, serum samples were obtained from 25,802 participants in the Campaign Against Cancer and Stroke in Washington County, Maryland (USA), and cryopreserved for future study. We measured prediagnostic levels of chlordane, lindane (gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane), beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, transnonachlor, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, oxychlordane, dieldrin, and hexachlorobenzene in serum samples of 74 cases of NHL and 147 matched controls. Previously, we found an association between NHL and serum levels of total PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), but not DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and related compounds. In this instance, there was no evidence of an association between NHL risk and serum levels of any of the individual lipid- and recovery-corrected organochlorines that we evaluated, nor of the summed chlordane-related compounds (transnonachlor, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, oxychlordane). These findings do not support the hypothesis that the organochlorine compounds included in this study are strongly linked to the development of NHL. The possibility of a weak association cannot be excluded by these data.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (315K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Devesa SS, Fears T. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma time trends: United States and international data. Cancer Res. 1992 Oct 1;52(19 Suppl):5432s–5440s. [PubMed]
  • Hartge P, Devesa SS, Fraumeni JF., Jr Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Cancer Surv. 1994;19-20:423–453. [PubMed]
  • Palackdharry CS. The epidemiology of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: why the increased incidence? Oncology (Williston Park) 1994 Aug;8(8):67–78. [PubMed]
  • Hardell L, Eriksson M. A case-control study of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and exposure to pesticides. Cancer. 1999 Mar 15;85(6):1353–1360. [PubMed]
  • Rêgo MA. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma risk derived from exposure to organic solvents: a review of epidemiologic studies. Cad Saude Publica. 1998;14 (Suppl 3):41–66. [PubMed]
  • Dich J, Zahm SH, Hanberg A, Adami HO. Pesticides and cancer. Cancer Causes Control. 1997 May;8(3):420–443. [PubMed]
  • Cantor KP, Blair A, Everett G, Gibson R, Burmeister LF, Brown LM, Schuman L, Dick FR. Pesticides and other agricultural risk factors for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among men in Iowa and Minnesota. Cancer Res. 1992 May 1;52(9):2447–2455. [PubMed]
  • Zahm SH, Weisenburger DD, Babbitt PA, Saal RC, Vaught JB, Cantor KP, Blair A. A case-control study of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) in eastern Nebraska. Epidemiology. 1990 Sep;1(5):349–356. [PubMed]
  • Woods JS, Polissar L, Severson RK, Heuser LS, Kulander BG. Soft tissue sarcoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in relation to phenoxyherbicide and chlorinated phenol exposure in western Washington. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1987 May;78(5):899–910. [PubMed]
  • Rothman N, Cantor KP, Blair A, Bush D, Brock JW, Helzlsouer K, Zahm SH, Needham LL, Pearson GR, Hoover RN, et al. A nested case-control study of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and serum organochlorine residues. Lancet. 1997 Jul 26;350(9073):240–244. [PubMed]
  • Brock JW, Burse VW, Ashley DL, Najam AR, Green VE, Korver MP, Powell MK, Hodge CC, Needham LL. An improved analysis for chlorinated pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in human and bovine sera using solid-phase extraction. J Anal Toxicol. 1996 Nov-Dec;20(7):528–536. [PubMed]
  • Phillips DL, Pirkle JL, Burse VW, Bernert JT, Jr, Henderson LO, Needham LL. Chlorinated hydrocarbon levels in human serum: effects of fasting and feeding. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 1989 Jul-Aug;18(4):495–500. [PubMed]
  • Brown LM, Blair A, Gibson R, Everett GD, Cantor KP, Schuman LM, Burmeister LF, Van Lier SF, Dick F. Pesticide exposures and other agricultural risk factors for leukemia among men in Iowa and Minnesota. Cancer Res. 1990 Oct 15;50(20):6585–6591. [PubMed]
  • Rugman FP, Cosstick R. Aplastic anaemia associated with organochlorine pesticide: case reports and review of evidence. J Clin Pathol. 1990 Feb;43(2):98–101. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Stellman SD, Djordjevic MV, Muscat JE, Gong L, Bernstein D, Citron ML, White A, Kemeny M, Busch E, Nafziger AN. Relative abundance of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in adipose tissue and serum of women in Long Island, New York. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1998 Jun;7(6):489–496. [PubMed]
  • Blair A, Zahm SH, Pearce NE, Heineman EF, Fraumeni JF., Jr Clues to cancer etiology from studies of farmers. Scand J Work Environ Health. 1992 Aug;18(4):209–215. [PubMed]
  • Zahm SH, Ward MH, Blair A. Pesticides and cancer. Occup Med. 1997 Apr-Jun;12(2):269–289. [PubMed]
  • Wang HH, MacMahon B. Mortality of workers employed in the manufacture of chlordane and heptachlor. J Occup Med. 1979 Nov;21(11):745–748. [PubMed]
  • Rauch AE, Kowalsky SF, Lesar TS, Sauerbier GA, Burkart PT, Scharfman WB. Lindane (Kwell)-induced aplastic anemia. Arch Intern Med. 1990 Nov;150(11):2393–2395. [PubMed]
  • West I. Lindane and hematologic reactions. Arch Environ Health. 1967 Jul;15(1):97–101. [PubMed]
  • Blair A, Cantor KP, Zahm SH. Non-hodgkin's lymphoma and agricultural use of the insecticide lindane. Am J Ind Med. 1998 Jan;33(1):82–87. [PubMed]
  • Brown DP. Mortality of workers employed at organochlorine pesticide manufacturing plants--an update. Scand J Work Environ Health. 1992 Jun;18(3):155–161. [PubMed]
  • Amoateng-Adjepong Y, Sathiakumar N, Delzell E, Cole P. Mortality among workers at a pesticide manufacturing plant. J Occup Environ Med. 1995 Apr;37(4):471–478. [PubMed]
  • Ribbens PH. Mortality study of industrial workers exposed to aldrin, dieldrin and endrin. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1985;56(2):75–79. [PubMed]
  • de Jong G, Swaen GM, Slangen JJ. Mortality of workers exposed to dieldrin and aldrin: a retrospective cohort study. Occup Environ Med. 1997 Oct;54(10):702–707. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Ditraglia D, Brown DP, Namekata T, Iverson N. Mortality study of workers employed at organochlorine pesticide manufacturing plants. Scand J Work Environ Health. 1981;7 (Suppl 4):140–146. [PubMed]
  • Scheele J, Teufel M, Niessen KH. Chlorinated hydrocarbons in human bone marrow of healthy individuals and leukemia patients. Arch Environ Health. 1996 Jan-Feb;51(1):22–25. [PubMed]
  • Scheele J, Teufel M, Niessen KH. Chlorinated hydrocarbons in the bone marrow of children: studies on their association with leukaemia. Eur J Pediatr. 1992 Nov;151(11):802–805. [PubMed]
  • Sala M, Sunyer J, Otero R, Santiago-Silva M, Ozalla D, Herrero C, To-Figueras J, Kogevinas M, Anto JM, Camps C, et al. Health effects of chronic high exposure to hexachlorobenzene in a general population sample. Arch Environ Health. 1999 Mar-Apr;54(2):102–109. [PubMed]
  • da Silva Augusto LG, Lieber SR, Ruiz MA, de Souza CA. Micronucleus monitoring to assess human occupational exposure to organochlorides. Environ Mol Mutagen. 1997;29(1):46–52. [PubMed]

Articles from Environmental Health Perspectives are provided here courtesy of National Institute of Environmental Health Science