A new study has found that women with breast cancer are more likely to have traces of the pesticide DDT in their blood. A residue of the fungicide hexachlorobenzene (HCB) were present in them.
The findings however do not conclude that DDT or HCB actually cause breast cancer. The pesticides banned in Canada and Europe is still used for mosquito control in developing countries. DDT, HCB and other environmental endocrine disrupters mimic the action of certain hormones, including oestrogen, in the body. In a study conducted on 159 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer, all women were tested for levels of DDT and HCB in their blood before undergoing any treatment. The samples were compared with blood taken from a group of healthy women. The study revealed that women with breast cancer were more likely to have detectable levels of DDT as the healthy women and more likely to have detectable levels of HCB. However women who had oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer did not have higher levels of DDT or HCB. Women who have oestrogen withdrawn from them at an early part of life have a dramatically lower risk of breast cancer. What we realise is that anything that increases oestrogen compounds probably does increase the risk of a woman developing breast cancer.