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Breast Milk Of Women Who Eat Lake Ontario Fish Contains High Levels Of PCBs, UB Study Finds

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Women who eat fish from Lake Ontario have significantly higher levels of PCBs and pesticides in their breast milk than women who do not eat Lake Ontario fish, results of a study of lactating women in the New York State Angler Cohort has shown.

Findings in the study, conducted by researchers from the University at Buffalo, also showed that concentrations of these toxicants in breast milk declined as the number of children and the time spent breast-feeding increased. The study appeared in a recent issue of Environmental Research.

"This work supports previous studies that also indicate that lactation is a primary means of removal of these persistent contaminants in the female," said Paul J. Kostyniak, Ph.D., chair of the UB Department of Clinical Laboratory Science in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, director of UB's Toxicology Research Center and primary author on the study.

"Most of a woman's excretion occurs via the milk during breast-feeding, so generally, the more children and the more breast-feeding, the lower the levels will be.

"The data on individual PCB subtypes also allow researchers to quantify exposures to specific subtypes, all of which have different rates of elimination from the body, different degrees of toxicity and, in many cases, different toxicological effects."

The New York State Angler Cohort is composed of licensed anglers and their spouses or partners from 16 counties surrounding Lake Ontario, a total of 10,517 men and 7,477 women who were between the ages of 18 and 40 when the study began. The study was undertaken in 1991 to determine the health consequences of eating fish from Lake Ontario, known to be the most polluted of the Great Lakes.

Many contaminants found in Great Lakes fish have been linked to adverse reproductive and developmental effects in wildlife populations that eat the fish. Dietary intake is the main sourc
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
716-645-2626
University at Buffalo
10-May-1999


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