Polychlorinated biphenyl levels in peripheral blood and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: A report from three cohorts

Lawrence S. Engel, Francine Laden, Aage Andersen, Paul T. Strickland, Aaron Blair, Larry L. Needham, Dana B. Barr, Mary S. Wolff, Kathy Helzlsouer, David J. Hunter, Qing Lan, Kenneth P. Cantor, George W. Comstock, John W. Brock, David Bush, Robert N. Hoover, Nathaniel Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) unrelated to HIV infection has steadily increased over the past several decades and remains substantially unexplained. Limited evidence suggests that increased concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) measured in blood or fat tissue are associated with increased risk of NHL. Although PCB congeners vary in their biological activity, the relation between individual congeners and NHL risk has not been examined previously using prospectively collected biospecimens. We examined congener-specific associations in three prospective cohorts. Prediagnostic serum or plasma concentrations of selected PCB congeners were measured among NHL cases and controls from these cohorts: Janus (190 cases and 190 controls) in Norway and CLUE I (74 cases and 147 controls) and the Nurses' Health Study (30 cases and 78 controls) in the United States. All blood samples were collected in the 1970s or 1980s. We used logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for the relations between risk of NHL and lipid-corrected plasma or serum concentrations. Several congeners (i.e., 118, 138, and 153) that were present at higher levels and were moderately to highly correlated with each other showed exposure-response trends with risk of NHL in all three cohorts. These associations were observed primarily among subjects diagnosed closer to the date of blood collection in the two cohorts with sufficient cases to permit stratification by time. Among cases diagnosed within the median years of follow-up (16 years in Janus and 12 years in CLUE I), ORs and 95% CIs for increasing fourths of concentration of congener 118 relative to the lowest fourth were as follows: 2.4 (0.9-6.5), 4.9 (1.6-15.3), and 5.3 (1.5-18.8) (Ptrend < 0.005) in Janus and 8.1 (1.0-68.9), 6.6 (0.7-59.0), and 13.0 (1.6-106.8) (Ptrend < 0.05) in CLUE I. Similar patterns were seen for congeners 138 and 153 and for total PCBs. Limited evidence of exposure-response trends was also observed for several other congeners. The primary 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane metabolite, p,p′-DDE, was not significantly associated with NHL in most analyses but slightly to moderately confounded the PCB associations. The results from these three cohorts suggest that concentrations of certain PCBs in blood are associated with increased risk of NHL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5545-5552
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2007


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