DDT pesticide exposure in utero increases breast cancer risk

Photo credit: Francis Storr Photo credit: Francis Storr

A recent study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism has found a correlation between fetal exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and increased risk for breast cancer. While DDT was banned in the United States in the 1970s due to health concerns, the wide use of the pesticide during the 1960s has significant implications for daughters born to mothers who were pregnant at that time. Additionally, DDT is still commonly used in other countries around the world to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The aim of this study was to determine if increased levels of maternal DDT exposure during pregnancy was linked to the risk of breast cancer in daughters. DDT levels were measured from blood collected from women soon after they had given birth between 1959 and 1967. A follow up 54 years after their birth was conducted for the daughters born to those mothers. Results showed that independent of the mothers’ breast cancer history, elevated DDT present in the mother’s blood during pregnancy predicted a four-fold increase for the daughter’s risk of breast cancer