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Environ Health Perspect. 2004 June; 112(8): 854–861.
PMCID: PMC1242012
Research Article

Adipose tissue levels of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls and risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.


In this nested case-control study we examined the relationship between non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and organochlorine pesticide exposure. We used a data set originally collected between 1969 and 1983 in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Human Adipose Tissue Survey. Adipose samples were randomly collected from cadavers and surgical patients, and levels of organochlorine pesticide residues were determined. From the original study population, 175 NHL cases were identified and matched to 481 controls; 173 controls were selected from accident victims, and 308 from cases with a diagnosis of myocardial infarction. Cases and controls were mainly from cadavers (> 96%) and were matched on sex, age, region of residence within the United States, and race/ethnicity. Conditional logistic regression showed the organochlorine pesticide residue heptachlor epoxide to be significantly associated with NHL [compared with the lowest quartile: third quartile odds ratio (OR) = 1.82, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01-3.28; fourth quartile OR = 3.41, 95% CI, 1.89-6.16]. The highest quartile level of dieldrin was also associated with elevated NHL risk (OR = 2.70; 95% CI, 1.58-4.61), as were higher levels of oxychlordane, p,p'-DDE [p,p'-1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene], and ss-benzene hexachloride (ORs = 1.79, 1.99, and 2.47, respectively). The p-values for trends for these associations were significant. In models containing pairs of pesticides, only heptachlor epoxide and dieldrin remained significantly associated with risk of NHL. Limitations of this study include collection of samples after diagnosis and a lack of information on variables affecting organochlorine levels such as diet, occupation, and body mass index. Given the persistence of pesticides in the environment, these findings are still relevant today.

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Selected References

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