Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of female cancer mortality in the U.S. and accounts for five percent of all cancer deaths among women. No environmental risk factors for ovarian cancer have been confirmed. We previously reported that ovarian cancer incidence rates at the state level were significantly correlated with the extent of pulp and paper manufacturing. We evaluated that association using county-level data and advanced geospatial methods. Specifically, we investigated the relationship of spatial patterns of ovarian cancer incidence rates with toxic emissions from pulp and paper facilities using data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). Geospatial analysis identified clusters of counties with high ovarian cancer incidence rates in south-central Iowa, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Georgia. A bivariate local indicator of spatial autocorrelation (LISA) analysis confirmed that counties with high ovarian cancer rates were associated with counties with large numbers of pulp and paper mills. Regression analysis of state level data indicated a positive correlation between ovarian cancer and water pollutant emissions. A similar relationship was identified from the analysis of county-level data. These data support a possible role of water-borne pollutants from pulp and paper mills in the etiology of ovarian cancer.
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