2005 Progress Report: Persistent Organic Pollutants and Endometriosis Risk

EPA Grant Number: R829438
Title: Persistent Organic Pollutants and Endometriosis Risk
Investigators: Holt, Victoria L.
Current Investigators: Holt, Victoria L. , Barr, Dana Boyd , Chen, Chu
Institution: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: March 25, 2002 through March 24, 2005 (Extended to March 24, 2007)
Project Period Covered by this Report: March 25, 2005 through March 24, 2006
Project Amount: $966,841
RFA: Endocrine Disruptors: Epidemiologic Approaches (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Endocrine Disruptors , Health , Safer Chemicals


Endometriosis, defined as the implantation of endometrial glands and stroma outside of the uterine cavity, is a relatively common abnormality, that, in many women, may be a serious and chronic gynecologic disease with symptoms including severe pelvic and menstrual pain, dyspareunia, and infertility. There has been recent scientific and popular press speculation that exposure to chemicals affecting endocrine function may be an important risk factor for endometriosis; however, little epidemiologic research has been done to investigate this hypothesis. The goal of this project is to assess the prevalence of exposure to organic pollutants in endometriosis cases and controls in a large health maintenance organization in western Washington state and to examine the interactions of these exposures with polymorphisms in genes involved in estrogen metabolism. Our specific aims are:

  1. To determine whether the risk of endometriosis is associated with lipid-adjusted serum levels of 14 organochlorine pesticides or urine levels of the pesticide methoxychlor;
  2. To determine whether the risk of endometriosis is associated with lipid-adjusted serum levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs; total PCBs and 35 PCB congeners);
  3. To determine whether the risk of endometriosis resulting from organochlorine pesticide or PCB exposure differs among women with differing CYP1A1, CYP1A2, COMT, and GSTM1 genotypes; and
  4. To determine whether the risk of endometriosis resulting from organochlorine pesticide or PCB exposure differs among women with differing levels of other exposures affecting estrogen levels.

Progress Summary:

This study is an ancillary investigation to Women’s Risk of Endometriosis (WREN), a case-control study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

WREN data, including in-person interviews (reproductive, contraceptive, menstrual, behavioral, occupational and other characteristics), dietary intake questionnaires, anthropometric measurements, and pharmacy information and analyses of two polymorphic genes coding enzymes active in detoxification and estrogen metabolism (GSTM1, COMT) are used in this project. Interview, measurement, and pharmacy data collection activities have been completed, (n = 342 cases and 741 controls), the data have been entered, and initial analyses of self-reported occupational and non-occupational exposure to potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been completed.

Blood sample collection is complete; blood samples were obtained from 283 cases and 585 controls. The GSTM1 and COMT analyses that were part of the initial WREN project have been completed, as have the CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 polymorphism analyses that are part of the current project. All genetic analyses were performed at the Chen Laboratory of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. Analyses of blood samples for lipid-adjusted serum levels of total PCBs, PCB congeners, HCB, b-HCH, g-HCH, aldrin, hepachlor epoxide, oxychlordane, trans-nonachlor, p,p'-DDE, o,p'-DDE, dieldrin, endrin, o,p'-DDT, p,p’-DDT, and mirex residues at the Pesticide Laboratory, Toxicology Branch, Division of Environmental Health Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, under the direction of Dr. Dana Barr are complete for 272 cases and 556 controls. These laboratory data, and all interview, anthropometric measurement, dietary, pharmacy and laboratory data have been combined for analysis. Preliminary analyses have been conducted on the linked data.

Urine sample collection is complete; urine samples were obtained from 159 cases and 301 controls. Analyses of urine samples for methoxychlor metabolite HPTE levels are in progress at the CDC.

Future Activities:

Standard epidemiologic approaches for case-control analyses will be employed to complete the accomplishment of the specific aims listed above. The measure of the association between organic pollutant exposure and endometriosis is the relative risk as estimated by the odds ratio (OR); 95% confidence intervals are used to estimate the precision of the ORs. Unconditional linear logistic regression, a method based on the linear estimation model, is used to estimate the ORs. Separate analyses are being conducted for exposure to each of the above-listed compounds, and exposures are modeled in at least four ways: (1) any detectable serum or urine level versus no detectable level; (2) top quartile of exposure levels (using control exposure distribution) versus the lower three quartiles combined; (3) top quartile of exposure levels (using control exposure distribution) versus the lowest quartile; and (4) in dose-response models by quartile, using the lowest quartile as the referent category.

To determine whether there is evidence of an interaction between organic pollutant levels and CYP1A1 or CYP1A2 genotypes, we will next examine whether the joint relation between the chemical compound exposures and the polymorphism exceed that predicted based upon a multiplicative relationship. We will also take advantage of the continuous nature of our exposure data, and examine the hypothesis that the relationship between the level (or dose) of organic compound exposure and endometriosis is modified by the genetic factor. In such analyses, we will attempt to identify the best fitting dose-response relation using higher order terms and splines.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 4 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

molecular epidemiology,, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, PHYSICAL ASPECTS, Genetics, Environmental Chemistry, Chemistry, Endocrine Disruptors - Environmental Exposure & Risk, endocrine disruptors, Risk Assessments, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Physical Processes, Children's Health, genetic susceptability, Endocrine Disruptors - Human Health, health effects, interindividual variability, pesticide exposure, puberty, reproductive effects, risk assessment, adolescence, adolescents, health risks, vulnerability, racial and ethnic differences, age-related differences, endocrine disrupting chemicals, exposure, gender, gene-environment interaction, pesticides, children, environmental mutagens, fertility, human malformation, particle exposure models, human exposure, susceptibility, toxicity, cumulative environmental exposure, estrogen metabloism, endocrine disrupting chemcials, diet, environmental stressors, environmental toxicant, harmful environmental agents, race ethnicity, toxic environmental contaminants, biological markers, endometriosis, growth & development, reproductive health, toxicants, age, developmental disorders, exposure assessment, genetic diversity, human health risk, reproductive, subpopulations

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • Final Report