Uterine leiomyomata (fibroids), benign neoplasms of the smooth muscle, are a major cause of hysterectomy. Exposure to hormonally active chemicals may play an etiologic role. The authors investigated the risk of uterine leiomyoma associated with exposure to 2,3,7,8,-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) for women who resided near Seveso, Italy, in 1976 at the time of a chemical explosion. Twenty years later, women enrolled in the Seveso Women's Health Study were asked about history of fibroids, medical records were obtained, and vaginal ultrasonography was performed for a subset. Serum collected soon after the explosion was analyzed for TCDD. A likelihood-based method that combines both historical and current status (ultrasound) data was adapted to estimate the hazard ratio. Of 956 eligible women, 251 (26.3%) had fibroids. Compared with that for women with TCDD levels of ≤20 parts per trillion, the age-adjusted hazard ratios were 0.58 (95% confidence interval: 0.41, 0.81) for women with levels of 20.1-75.0 parts per trillion and 0.62 (95% confidence interval: 0.44, 0.89) for women with levels of >75.0 parts per trillion. This finding suggests that TCDD may have antiestrogenic effects in the uterine myometrium, in contrast to apparently estrogenic effects previously found in the breast of Seveso Women's Health Study women.
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