(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2007) Breast cancer groups across the country have a new issue to add to the repertoire of risk factors: Pesticide use. A study published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology has found a strong link between residential pesticide use and breast cancer risk in women. Responding to the study, Susan Teitelbaum, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of community medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, says the options are simpleâ€” “Stop using pesticides.”
The study, published December 13, is the first to examine the relation between breast cancer and pesticides through self-reported residential pesticide use. Using women from New York, the study looks not at one or two incidents of pesticide contact, but at the impact of lifelong pesticide use in the home, lawn and garden. Using a sample of 1,508 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1996 and 1997, the study compares these women to 1,556 control subjects who were randomly selected.
The results show that those women whose blood samples had higher levels of organochlorines are at an increased risk of breast cancer. Organochlorines are a broad class of chemicals, including DDT, dieldrin, and chlordane, and were found in a variety of insecticides, as well as some rodenticides and fungicides. The report also found that nearly all women use lawn and garden pesticides to some degree.
Although this study was the first to find an association through self reported use, the link between breast cancer and pesticides has been previously documented. In 2002, California officials focused on pesticides as a source of the rapid increase in breast cancer. A study from 2003 shows an increase in breast cancer risk from consuming fish contaminated with DDT (an organochlorine), PCBs, and PBDEs. In 2006, a study found that women who have been employed in agriculture are at a higher risk for breast cancer. Additionally, pesticides like dieldrin, DDT, heptachlor, and triazines have either been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer or are linked to the disease.
Although pesticides are used to control everything from ants and termites to weeds and garden pests, and are even found in products such as treated wood and hygiene products, alternatives do exist. An integrated pest management (IPM) program, which focuses on the root of the problem, is a safe and effective way to ward off unwanted creatures. IPM uses a more comprehensive approach, looking to prevent and control pest problems with non-toxic alternatives.
Source: United Press International