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Breast cancer among women in Michigan following exposure to brominated flame retardants
  1. Metrecia L Terrell1,
  2. Karin A Rosenblatt2,
  3. Julie Wirth3,4,
  4. Lorraine L Cameron4,
  5. Michele Marcus1,5,6
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, USA
  3. 3Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
  4. 4Division of Environmental Health, Bureau of Disease Control, Prevention and Epidemiology, Michigan Department of Community Health, Lansing, Michigan, USA
  5. 5Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  6. 6Department of Pediatrics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Metrecia L Terrell, Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Rd, Mailstop: 1518-002-3BB, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA; mterrel{at}


In this updated follow-up, we investigated the breast cancer experience among women in Michigan exposed to brominated flame retardants, some 30 years following exposure. Michigan residents were enrolled in a study cohort after exposure to polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) through the consumption of contaminated food products. PBB concentrations were measured in serum at the time of enrolment. Cancer experience was determined by linkage to the Michigan Cancer Registry. We conducted a nested case–control study that included 51 women diagnosed with breast cancer during 1974–2004 and 202 age-matched controls. While the data suggest an increase in breast cancer risk with higher PBB exposure, this did not reach statistical significance. The OR of having breast cancer among women with PBB concentrations ≥10 ng/mL compared to women with PBB concentrations at or below the limit of detection of 1 ng/mL was 2.60, 95% CI 0.93 to 7.27, (p=0.07), when adjusted for age and family history of cancer in a first-degree female relative. It remains important to examine exposure to brominated chemicals and possible health effects, and to continue following the cancer experience of participants in this study.

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