Serum organochlorine levels and history of lactation in Egypt

Amr S. Soliman, Xuemei Wang, John DiGiovanni, Saad Eissa, Magda Morad, Sury Vulimiri, Khaled G. Mahgoub, Dennis A. Johnston, Kim Anh Do, Ibrahim A. Seifeldin, Paolo Boffetta, Melissa L. Bondy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


We conducted a study in Egypt to assess the determinants of organochlorine serum levels among premenopausal women and the risk of premenopausal breast cancer for women with high organochlorine serum levels. We included 69 breast cancer patients and 53 controls consisting of visitors to the hospitals of the cancer patients. We found low levels of dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), total dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, and β-hexacholorhexane (β-HCH) in most subjects. Mean DDE levels were 12.7±20.3ppb for cases and 16.6±30.1ppb for controls (P=0.60); β-HCH levels were 2.1±3.8ppb for patients and 2.1±3.9ppb for controls (P=0.71). Interestingly, subjects with low levels had breast fed their children for an average period of 18 months. Women with no lactation history had much higher organochlorine levels than women who breast fed (P=0.002 for DDE). Younger age, older age at first childbirth, and shorter duration of breast feeding were significant predictors of higher levels of serum DDE levels. Younger age, older age at first childbirth, and higher body mass index were significant predictors of higher β-HCH levels. This study suggests that organochlorine serum levels in Egyptian women are quite low, but indicates an effect of breast feeding in eliminating organochlorines, which would imply exposure to children. Organochlorine serum level was not a risk factor of breast cancer in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-117
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • Breast cancer
  • Egypt
  • Lactation
  • Organochlorines
  • Pesticides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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