Are polybrominated diphenyl ethers a risk factor for thyroid cancer?

In August 2018 researchers from Italy published their review on the role of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in thyroid cancer. They stated that the incidence of thyroid cancer has increased faster than that of any other malignant tumor type. There are likely to be many causes of thyroid cancer and a variety of potential risk factors have been identified. One risk factor is thought to be polybrominated diphenyl ethers, used since the 1970s as flame retardants. These are still widespread and persistent pollutants today, although their production was phased out in western countries several years ago. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are known endocrine disruptors, and the endocrine system is their primary target. Evidence that polybrominated diphenyl ethers can affect the normal functionality of the thyroid is currently inconclusive. However, there are a number of clues which suggest that polybrominated diphenyl ethers can increase the risk of thyroid cancer and further research is required.

Gorini F et al. The Role of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in Thyroid Carcinogenesis: Is It a Weak Hypothesis or a Hidden Reality? From Facts to New Perspectives. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Aug 24;15(9). pii: E1834

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