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Relationships between occupational history and serum concentrations of organochlorine compounds in exocrine pancreatic cancer
  1. Magda Bosch de Basea1,2,
  2. Miquel Porta1,2,3,
  3. Joan Alguacil2,4,
  4. Elisa Puigdomènech1,2,
  5. Magda Gasull1,2,
  6. José A Garrido4,
  7. Tomàs López1,2,
  8. for the PANKRAS II Study Group
  1. 1Institut Municipal d'Investigació Mèdica (IMIM), Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Spain
  3. 3School of Medicine, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  4. 4Universidad de Huelva, Huelva, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Miquel Porta, Clinical and Molecular Epidemiology of Cancer Unit, Institut Municipal d'Investigació Mèdica (IMIM), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Carrer del Dr Aiguader 88, E-08003 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; mporta{at}


Background Previous studies investigating associations between occupational history and risk of exocrine pancreatic cancer (EPC) did not use biomarkers of exposure. The only two studies that measured internal concentrations of organochlorine compounds (OCs) in EPC did not analyse their relationship with occupation.

Objective To analyse the relationship between occupational history and blood concentrations of seven OCs in patients with EPC.

Methods Incident cases of EPC were prospectively identified, and during hospital admission were interviewed face-to-face on occupational history and life-style factors (n=135). Occupations were coded according to the International Standard of Occupations 1988. Some occupational exposures were also assessed with the Finnish job-exposure matrix (Finjem). Serum concentrations of OCs were analysed by high-resolution gas chromatography with electron-capture detection.

Results Craftsmen and related trades workers had significantly higher concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners 138, 153 and 180. Years worked in agriculture did not influence concentrations of p,p'-DDT, p,p'-DDE, hexachlorobenzene or β-hexachlorocyclohexane. Subjects who ever worked in agriculture had lower concentrations of PCBs (all p<0.05). Occupational exposure to lead, nickel and low frequency magnetic fields was significantly associated with higher concentrations of PCBs.

Conclusions Certain occupations were associated with higher concentrations of PCBs, suggesting that these compounds may account for some increased risks found in previous studies. The lack of association between work in agriculture and concentrations of OC pesticides is consistent with occupation playing a lesser role than diet in influencing OC concentrations. Occupational studies on the relationships among exposure to industrial agents and EPC risk may need to consider adjusting for exposure to PCBs.

  • Organochlorine compounds
  • pancreatic neoplasms, aetiology
  • exocrine pancreatic cancer
  • occupational history
  • polychlorinated biphenyls
  • dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane
  • dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane
  • hexachlorobenzene
  • β-hexachlorocyclohexane
  • occupation
  • aetiology

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  • Members of the Multicentre Prospective Study on the Role of K-ras and other Genetic Alterations in the Diagnosis, Prognosis and Etiology of Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases (PANKRAS II) Study Group are mentioned in previous publications.

  • Funding This study was supported by the Government of Catalonia and CIBER de Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the ethics committee of the participating hospitals.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.