Epidemiology: Organochlorines and the Risk of Liver Cancer


MSKCC Principal Investigator
Lawrence S. Engel, PhD

Co-Principal Investigators
Tom Grimsrud, PhD
Cancer Registry of Norway

Stephen Van Den Eeden, PhD
Kaiser Permanente

Study Objectives

  • To determine the relation of serum concentrations of PCBs and selected pesticides with risk of primary liver cancer.
  • To determine the relation of serum concentrations of aflatoxin-albumin adducts with risk of primary liver cancer.
  • To examine the joint effects of serum concentrations of organochlorines, concentrations of aflatoxin-albumin adducts, and hepatitis B or C infection on the risk of primary liver cancer.

Why Is this Study Important?

  • This study will further our understanding of the risks posed by ongoing low-level exposure to organochlorines and aflatoxins in developed countries.
  • Human exposure to many organochlorines continues, despite bans on their production and use in many countries, because of leakage from equipment and landfills, ongoing use of organochlorine pesticides in less developed countries, continued environmental redistribution, environmental persistence, bioaccumulation in the food chain, and changing patterns of food production and consumption.
  • Although aflatoxins are an established liver carcinogen, little is known about their risk at the low levels typically found in developed countries.

Who Is Conducting this Study?

  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Cancer Registry of Norway
  • Kaiser Permanente, Northern California

Study Overview and Progress

This is a case-control study nested within two prospective general population cohorts - the Janus cohort in Norway and the Multiphasic Health Checkup (MHC) cohort in Northern California. It includes approximately 250 liver cancer cases and 750 controls who provided blood samples and completed questionnaires in the 1960s and 1970s. Concentrations of organochlorines and aflatoxin-albumin adducts are being measured in these specimens. Analyses are underway.

Contact Information

Larry Engel