DDT exposure in utero raises breast cancer risk 3.7x – study

Reuters / Stringer

Reuters / Stringer

Blood samples taken from pregnant mothers showed that exposure to high levels of the pesticide DDT resulted in daughters with nearly four times the rate of breast cancer, according to a new study.

Researchers followed 9,300 women born between 1959 to 1967, when
the insecticide DDT was widely sprayed on lands and agriculture.
When taking into account the history of these women’s mothers,
the study found that they had a 3.7 times higher risk of breast
cancer if they had been exposed to the insecticide in utero.

It has long been suspected that environmental chemicals that
interfere with hormone systems could be connected to risk of
breast cancer. Here we found the first direct connection for
measured levels of DDT in mothers’ pregnancy blood,”
study’s lead author, Barbara Cohn, director of child health and
development studies at the Public Health Institute in Berkeley,
California, told Reuters.

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DDT behaves like a synthetic estrogen hormone, and when in
contact with insects it cause seizures, leading to death. In
humans, the estrogen hormone is involved in signaling breast
cells to grow and divide. The current study reviewed blood tests
for DDT levels in 20,754 women who had given birth in Oakland,
California during the 50s and 60s.

Of the 9,300 daughters of these women studied by scientists using
state cancer registry records, 137 had developed breast tumors by
the age of 52. Some of the daughters were excluded because there
was no data on their mother’s exposure to DDT, but of those
remaining, 103 had developed tumors. Of those women with tumors,
83 percent were fueled by the hormone estrogen, and 76 percent by
the hormone progesterone.

The EPA lists DDT as a probable carcinogen, but previous research
has been mixed about its link to breast cancer.

RT’s Lindsay France reported that “the study’s authors say
their findings support the classification of DDT as an endocrine
disruptor, a predictor of high risk breast cancer and a marker of
high risk. All of this will require massive further study.”

Scientists involved in the study, published in the Journal of
Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, knew that similar in utero
studies had found links between synthetic estrogens and an
increased risk of breast cancer, but there was no study showing
links to the use of DDT, which was widely used in the 1960s. The
pesticide is still widely used in Africa and Asia to help control
malaria-spreading mosquitoes.

Worldwide breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women,
with about one in nine women eventually developing the disease,
according the National Institutes of Health.

Source Article from http://rt.com/usa/268249-in-utero-pesticide-exposure-cancer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

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