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PCBs, furans may factor in risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Scientists have found some additional evidence that environmental exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may be associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to a study published in the December 1 issue of Cancer Research.

By comparing blood levels of PCBs in 100 pairs of healthy volunteers and non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients, Anneclaire De Roos, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and colleagues determined that high levels of three specific molecular forms of PCBs are linked to an increased risk of developing cancer that starts in patients' lymph tissue.

The research also disclosed a potential increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma associated with high blood levels of total dibenzofurans. Furans form as a by-product of waste incineration and other industrial processes and are also present in the environment at lower levels than PCBs.

"This study strengthens the hypothesis that persistent organochlorines may be associated with risk of lymphoma" said Nathanial Rothman, a researcher in the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.

"The furans are a new hypothesis, and the PCB findings provide us with some additional evidence, but these studies really need to be replicated broadly with much larger numbers of cases. Also, it is important to follow-up these findings in prospective cohort studies that collect blood samples from people when they are healthy, so that we can measure organochlorine levels before their disease develops."

Incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma has risen through-out the last half of the twentieth century, concurrent with the use and environmental dispersion of synthetic PCBs. Although their production has been banned for more than 25 years in the United States due to toxicological concerns, PCBs persist in the environment and remain in humans because they break down slowly.

"Though they aren't being produced any mor
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Contact: Russell Vanderboom, Ph.D.
vanderboom@aacr.org
215-440-9300
American Association for Cancer Research
1-Dec-2005


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