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Pesticides Linked to Prostate Cancer

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Sunday Jan 10, 2010 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study suggests that exposure to organochlorine pesticides may increase risk of developing prostate cancer.

Organochlorine (OC) pesticides are environmental endocrine disruptors; earlier studies on these chemicals and their correlation to cancer risk have been inconsistent.

Researchers, led by Xiaohui Xu, Ph.D. of University of Florida, analyzed data from 1999–2004 using information provided by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; they examined the information for any association between serum levels of organochlorine pesticides and prostate/breast cancer.

The researchers found (after adjustment for other factors) serum levels of β-hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), trans-nonachlor, and dieldrin were significantly associated with the risk of prevalent prostate cancer.

In comparison with those who had the lowest levels, those who were in the second and third tertiles of OC values were 46 and 236 percent for β-HCH, 484 and 1310 percent for trans-nonachlor,  and 6 and 174 percent for dieldrin were more likely to have prostate cancer.

There was no association between OC levels of breast cancer prevalence.

The conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that contain highest levels of pesticides include peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, pears, spinach, potatoes, carrots, green beans, hot peppers, cucumbers, raspberries, plums, oranges, and domestic grapes, according to the Environmental Working Group.
The fruits and vegetables with the lowest concentrations of pesticides include broccoli, eggplant, cabbage, banana, kiwi, asparagus, sweet peas (frozen), mango, pineapple, sweet corn (frozen), avocado and onion, according to foodnews.org, a website of the EWG.


Xu X, Dailey AB, Talbott EO, Ilacqua VA, Kearney G, Asal NR 2009. Associations of Serum Concentrations of Organochlorine Pesticides with Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer in U.S. Adults. Environ Health Perspect 118:60-66. doi:10.1289/ehp.0900919

Reporting by David Liu and editing by Rachel Stockton

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