Chlorinated pesticides and cancer of the head and neck: a retrospective case series.

Research paper by Gregg G Govett, Stephen John SJ Genuis, Hannah E HE Govett, Sanjay S Beesoon

Indexed on: 03 Jun '11Published on: 03 Jun '11Published in: European journal of cancer prevention : the official journal of the European Cancer Prevention Organisation (ECP)


Cancer of the head and neck is a pervasive problem with recognized determinants including tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and earlier radiation exposure. Organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) have been shown to have carcinogenic potential in both animals and humans. OCPs have previously been widely used in the agricultural industry of rural Oklahoma. Seven patients from rural Oklahoma with head and neck cancer and without any of the usual risk factors were tested for the presence of OCPs in their adipose tissue. Clinical and toxicological data on each of these patients are presented for consideration. Results were compared with (i) levels from five individuals not experiencing cancer but who lived in the same area, and (ii) adipose tissue OCP levels in other population groups. Each of the seven patients tested had markedly elevated levels of some OCPs in their adipose tissue compared with the cohort of noncancer patients. Further research is required to confirm whether there is a causative link between OCP bioaccumulation and head and neck cancer as suggested by this case series.