Self-reported residential pesticide use and survival after breast cancer

Niehoff, Nicole M.; Gammon, Marilie D.; Parada Jr., Humberto; Stellman, Steven D.; Neugut, Alfred I.; Teitelbaum, Susan L.

INTRODUCTION: Previous investigations found elevated mortality after breast cancer in association with biomarkers of persistent organochlorine pesticides in non-occupationally exposed women. We hypothesized that lifetime residential pesticide use, which includes persistent and non-persistent pesticides, would also be associated with increased mortality after breast cancer. METHODS: A population-based cohort of 1505 women with invasive or in situ breast cancer was interviewed in 1996-1997, shortly after diagnosis, about pre-diagnostic lifetime residential pesticide use. Participants were followed for mortality through 2014 (595 deaths from any cause and 236 from breast cancer, after 17.6 years of follow-up). Pesticides were examined as 15 individual categories; a group of seven used for lawn and garden purposes; a group of eight used for nuisance-pest purposes; and all combined. Cox regression was used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for all-cause and breast cancer-specific mortality. Modification by estrogen receptor (ER) status, body mass index, and long-term residence was examined. RESULTS: Ever use (HR=0.77, 95%CI=0.63-0.95) and higher lifetime applications (4th quartile: HR=0.62, 95%CI=0.47-0.81, p-trend=0.3) of the lawn and garden group of pesticides were inversely associated with all-cause mortality, compared to never use. The inverse association for lawn and garden pesticide use was limited to ER positive (vs. negative) tumors (p-interaction=0.05). Nuisance-pest pesticides, and all groups combined, were not associated with all-cause or breast cancer-specific mortality. CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to our hypothesis, lifetime residential use of lawn and garden pesticides, but not all combined or nuisance-pest pesticides, was inversely associated with all-cause mortality after breast cancer.


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International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health

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January 30, 2020


The study from which these data are drawn originated in the early 1990s at Columbia in the Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, as part of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project. The project's PI, Dr. Marilie Gammon, is now with the University of North Carolina. A number of Columbia researchers continue to collaborate.