Alterations in thyroid function and serum lipid levels were assessed in relation to exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and three chlorinated pesticides (DDE, hexachorobenzene and mirex) in a sample of Akwesasne Mohawk adults. This population is highly exposed to PCBs because of living in close proximity to three aluminum foundries that used PCBs as hydraulic fluids, which then contaminated local fish, wildlife, water, air and soils. The goal was to assess interactions between thyroid function (TSH, T3, T4 and fT4) and serum lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides and total serum lipids) in relation to concentrations of 101 PCB congeners and three chlorinated pesticides. Previous studies in this population have shown that elevated concentrations of PCBs resulted in suppression of thyroid function in adolescents, and increased risk of clinical hypothyroidism in adults, as well as an elevation in serum lipids. However in adjusted analyses of PCB concentrations of 703 adults we find only small and inconsistent associations between serum PCB levels and thyroid function. The most striking observations were strong significant positive associations between TSH and T3 with serum lipids and a negative association with fT4 in women. Because elevated serum lipids increase risks of other diseases the respective roles of thyroid hormones and PCBs in regulation of serum lipids requires additional study.
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