Environmental exposure to hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and risk of female breast cancer in Connecticut

Tongzhang Zheng, Theodore R. Holford, Susan T. Mayne, John Tessari, Patricia H. Owens, Shelia H. Zahm, Bin Zhang, Robert Dubrow, Barbara Ward, Darryl Carter, Peter Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Earlier studies have provided inconclusive results relating hexachlorobenzene (HCB), an organochlorine fungicide, to female breast cancer risk. The current study, with a total of 304 breast cancer cases and 186 controls recruited in Connecticut between 1994 and 1997, examined the association by directly comparing breast adipose tissue levels of HCB between incident breast cancer cases and noncancer controls. The cases and controls were patients who had breast biopsies or surgery at the Yale-New Haven Hospital (New Haven, CT) and histologically diagnosed either as breast cancer or benign breast disease. Information on major known or suspected risk factors for breast cancer was obtained through in-person interview by trained interviewers. No significant difference in mean breast adipose tissue levels of HCB was observed between breast cancer patients (21.0 ppb) and controls (19.1 ppb) in this large case-control study. The risk also did not vary significantly by menopausal status, estrogen or progesterone receptor status of the breast cancer cases, breast cancer histology, stage of diagnosis, or type of benign breast disease. Among parous women who reported ever breast feeding, an odds ratio (OR) of 0.5 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.2-1.4] was observed when the highest quartile was compared with the lowest quartile. However, no association was observed among parous women who reported never breast feeding (OR = 0.7; 95% CI, 0.3-1.7 for the fourth quartile). For nulliparous women, the adjusted OR was 2.1 (95% CI, 0.5-8.8) for the third tertile when compared with the lowest based on few subjects. Therefore, our study does not support a positive association between environmental exposure to HCB and risk of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-411
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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