Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (p,p’-DDT), an organochlorine pesticide known to have deleterious health effects in humans, has been linked to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in rodents. A recent study has reported that p,p’-DDT and its most persistent metabolite, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p’-DDE), may also be associated with HCC in humans.
To examine whether there is an association between p,p’-DDT and/or p,p’-DDE in a population at high-risk of developing HCC.
A nested case-control study was conducted within the 83,794 person Haimen City Cohort in China. Sera and questionnaire data were collected from all participants between 1992 and 1993. The current study included 473 persons who developed HCC and 492 who did not, frequency matched on sex, age and area of residence. p,p’-DDT and p,p’-DDE levels were determined by mass spectrometry. Hepatitis B viral infection status (based on hepatitis B virus surface antigen; HBsAg) was also determined. Adjusting for age, sex, area of residence, HBsAg, family history of HCC, history of acute hepatitis, smoking, alcohol, occupation (farmers) and levels of p,p’-DDT or p,p’-DDE, odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated via unconditional logistic regression,
p,p’-DDT and/or p,p’-DDE serum levels were significantly associated with sex, area of residence, occupation, alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. Overall, the highest quintile of p,p’-DDT was associated with an increased risk of HCC, OR= 2.96 95% CI; 1.19–7.40. There were no statistically significant associations with p,p’-DDE.
Overall, these results suggest that recent exposure to p,p’-DDT may increase risk of HCC.