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Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Feb 15;171(4):455-64. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp404. Epub 2010 Jan 8.

Pesticide use and thyroid disease among women in the Agricultural Health Study.

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  • 1University of Nebraska Medical Center, Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE68198-3020, USA.


Thyroid disease is common, and evidence of an association between organochlorine exposure and thyroid disease is increasing. The authors examined the cross-sectional association between ever use of organochlorines and risk of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism among female spouses (n = 16,529) in Iowa and North Carolina enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study in 1993-1997. They also assessed risk of thyroid disease in relation to ever use of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and fumigants. Prevalence of self-reported clinically diagnosed thyroid disease was 12.5%, and prevalence of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism was 6.9% and 2.1%, respectively. There was an increased odds of hypothyroidism with ever use of organochlorine insecticides (adjusted odds ratio (OR(adj)) = 1.2 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.0, 1.6) and fungicides (OR(adj) = 1.4 (95% CI: 1.1, 1.8) but no association with ever use of herbicides, fumigants, organophosphates, pyrethroids, or carbamates. Specifically, ever use of the organochlorine chlordane (OR(adj) = 1.3 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.7), the fungicides benomyl (OR(adj) = 3.1 (95% CI: 1.9, 5.1) and maneb/mancozeb (OR(adj) = 2.2 (95% CI: 1.5, 3.3), and the herbicide paraquat (OR(adj) = 1.8 (95% CI: 1.1, 2.8) was significantly associated with hypothyroidism. Maneb/mancozeb was the only pesticide associated with both hyperthyroidism (OR(adj) = 2.3 (95% CI: 1.2, 4.4) and hypothyroidism. These data support a role of organochlorines, in addition to fungicides, in the etiology of thyroid disease among female spouses enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study.

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