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Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2004 May;77(4):293-5. Epub 2004 Mar 4.

Cancer mortality in a cohort of licensed herbicide applicators.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



In order to expand our knowledge on the possible long-term health effects of exposure to herbicides, we updated the follow-up of a cohort of 1341 licensed herbicide applicators in the Netherlands. The earlier report indicated that there might be an increased risk for multiple myeloma in this group. Although that finding was statistically significant, the result was based on a small number of cases.


We expanded the follow-up from 1 January 1988 to 1 January 2001, which added 13 years to the follow-up. We now report on the causes of death of 196 exposed workers.


Our findings indicate that licensed herbicide applicators were at an increased risk for skin cancer mortality [standardized mortality ratio (SMR)=357.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 115.1-827.0]. It is not clear if this excess of skin cancer should be attributed to herbicide exposure or to excess exposure to sunlight.

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