Dioxin exposure and breast cancer risk in a prospective cohort study

Trang VoPham, Kimberly A. Bertrand, Rena R. Jones, Nicole C. Deziel, Natalie C. DuPré, Peter James, Ying Liu, Verónica M. Vieira, Rulla M. Tamimi, Jaime E. Hart, Mary H. Ward, Francine Laden

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29 Scopus citations


Background: Dioxins are persistent organic pollutants generated from industrial combustion processes such as waste incineration. To date, results from epidemiologic studies of dioxin exposure and breast cancer risk have been mixed. Objectives: To prospectively examine the association between ambient dioxin exposure using a nationwide spatial database of industrial dioxin-emitting facilities and invasive breast cancer risk in the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII). Methods: NHSII includes female registered nurses in the US who have completed self-administered biennial questionnaires since 1989. Incident invasive breast cancer diagnoses were self-reported and confirmed by medical record review. Dioxin exposure was estimated based on residential proximity, duration of residence, and emissions from facilities located within 3, 5, and 10 km around geocoded residential addresses updated throughout follow-up. Cox regression models adjusted for breast cancer risk factors were used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results: From 1989 to 2013, 3840 invasive breast cancer cases occurred among 112,397 participants. There was no association between residential proximity to any dioxin facilities (all facilities combined) and breast cancer risk overall. However, women who resided within 10 km of any municipal solid waste incinerator (MSWI) compared to none had increased breast cancer risk (adjusted HR = 1.15, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.28), with stronger associations noted for women who lived within 5 km (adjusted HR = 1.25, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.52). Positive associations were also observed for longer duration of residence and higher dioxin emissions from MSWIs within 3, 5, and 10 km. There were no clear differences in patterns of association for ER + vs. ER-breast cancer or by menopausal status. Discussion: Results from this study support positive associations between dioxin exposure from MSWIs and invasive breast cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109516
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Breast cancer
  • Dioxin
  • Environmental exposure
  • Epidemiology


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