Pregnant women’s blood samples suggested that exposure to high doses of the pesticide DDT resulted in daughters with four times the rate to have breast cancer, a new study said.
9,300 women born from 1959 to 1967, at the height of the DDT insecticide was sprayed widely on lands and agriculture, were followed by researchers. The study discovered that they had a 3.7 times greater risk of developing breast cancer if they were exposed to the insecticide in utero.
Barbara Cohn, child health and development studies director of the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, California and the study lead author, told Reuters in an interview, “It has long been suspected that environmental chemicals that interfere with hormone systems could be connected to risk of breast cancer. Here we found the first direct connection for measured levels of DDT in mothers’ pregnancy blood.”
DDT acts like a synthetic estrogen hormone, and when sprayed in insects causes seizures leading to death. In humans, the estrogen hormone is tangled in prompting breast cells to grow and divide. DDT levels from blood samples in 20,754 women who had given birth in Oakland, California during the 50s and 60s, were studied by researchers.
9,300 daughters of these women monitored by scientists with the use of state cancer registry records, 137 developed breast tumors at the age of 52. Some daughters were excluded due to the fact that no data were available regarding their mother’s exposure to DDT, but of the remaining women, 103 developed tumors. Of those women with tumors, 83 % were fueled by the hormone estrogen, and 76 % of the hormone progesterone.
The EPA listed DDT as possibly carcinogenic, but prior research has been mixed about its relation to breast cancer.
RT’s Lindsay France reported that “the study’s authors say their findings support the classification of DDT as an endocrine disruptor, a predictor of high risk breast cancer and a marker of high risk. All of this will require massive further study.”
According to a published research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, similarly in utero studies discovered relations between synthetic estrogens and an amplified risk of breast cancer, but there was no study showing links to the use of DDT, which was extensively used during the 1960s. Up to now, the pesticide is still widely use in Asia and Africa to help control malaria-spreading mosquitoes.