Public Release: 

Cancer risk raised after northern Italian industrial accident

BioMed Central

People living in the Seveso area of Italy, which was exposed to dioxin after an industrial accident in 1976, have experienced an increased risk of developing cancer. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health found an increased risk of breast cancer in women from the most exposed zone and an excess of lymphatic and hematopoietic tissue neoplasms in all but the least exposed zone.

Angela Pesatori led a team of researchers from the Fondazione IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, a local hospital associated with the University of Milan, who extended a study of cancer incidence in the area, which now covers the period 1977-96. She said, "The industrial accident that occurred in the Seveso area in 1976 exposed a large residential population to substantial amounts of TCDD [2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin]. Although the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the US Environmental Protection Agency have both classified TCDD as human carcinogen, scientific debate still persists on the actual cancer risk posed to the general population. We've found that it does pose a carcinogenic hazard, although lower than anticipated from animal studies, at least at the levels experienced by this population after this accident".

The researchers studied the medical records of all subjects living in the area at the date of the accident (July 10, 1976) and those who migrated into, or were born in, the area during the following 10 years. Of these 36,589 files, 99.9% were successfully reviewed. There were 2122 cases of cancer, 660 of which occurred after 1991. Specific and significant increases in risk, compared to the general population, were discovered for breast cancer and lymphatic and hematopoietic neoplasms, although based on a small number of cases. Speaking about these results, Pesatori said, "These increases were expected based on previous studies. The mortality study, which covered a longer follow-up period, confirmed the excess of lymphatic and hematopoietic risk. We did not identify an all-cancer excess, as seen in occupational cohorts which had similar, sometimes higher, and more complex exposures".

###

Notes to Editors

1. Cancer incidence in the population exposed to dioxin after the "Seveso accident": twenty years of follow-up
Angela Cecilia Pesatori, Dario Consonni, Maurizia Rubagotti, Paolo Grillo and Pier Alberto Bertazzi
Environmental Health (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.ehjournal.net/imedia/8910245772673260_article.pdf?random=820546

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.ehjournal.net/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. Environmental Health is an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal that considers manuscripts on all aspects of environmental and occupational medicine, and related studies in toxicology and epidemiology.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.