Serum dioxin concentrations and breast cancer risk in the Seveso Women's Health Study

Marcella Warner, Brenda Eskenazi, Paolo Mocarelli, Pier Mario Gerthoux, Steven Samuels, Larry Needham, Donald Patterson, Paolo Brambilla

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201 Scopus citations


2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD or dioxin), a widespread environmental contaminant, has been shown to disrupt multiple endocrine pathways. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified TCDD as a known human carcinogen, primarily based on occupational studies of increased mortality from all cancers combined. Using data from the Seveso Women's Health Study (SWHS), we examined the association between individual serum TCDD levels and breast cancer risk in women residing around Seveso, Italy, in 1976, at the time of an industrial explosion that resulted in the highest known population exposure to TCDD. The SWHS cohort comprises 981 women who were infants to 40 years old in 1976, resided in the most contaminated areas at the time of the explosion, and had archived sera that was collected soon after the explosion. For each woman, serum TCDD exposure was measured by high-resolution mass spectrometry. Cancer cases were identified during interview and confirmed by medical record. At interview, 15 women (1.5%) had been diagnosed with breast cancer and serum TCDD levels for cases ranged from 13 to 1,960 ppt. Cox proportional hazards modeling showed that the hazard ratio for breast cancer associated with a 10-fold increase in serum TCDD levels (log10 TCDD) was significantly increased to 2.1 (95% confidence interval, 1.0-4.6). Covariate-adjusted results were not different. Individual serum TCDD is significantly related with breast cancer incidence among women in the SWHS cohort. Continued follow-up of the cohort will help shed light on the possible role of TCDD in the pathogenesis of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-628
Number of pages4
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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