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Scand J Work Environ Health. 2004 Jun;30(3):215-22.

Occupation, pesticide exposure and risk of multiple myeloma.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, United States.



This population-based case-control study examined the relationship between occupation, living or working on a farm, pesticide exposure, and the risk of multiple myeloma.


The study included 573 persons newly diagnosed with myeloma and 2131 controls. Information was obtained on sociodemographic factors, occupational history, and history of living and working on a farm. Occupational and industrial titles were coded by standardized classification systems. A job-exposure matrix was developed for occupational pesticide exposure. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were estimated by unconditional logistic regression.


Farmers and farm workers had odds ratios of 1.9 (95% CI 0.8-4.6) and 1.4 (95% CI 0.8-2.3), respectively. An odds ratio of 1.7 (95% CI 1.0-2.7) was observed for sheep farm residents or workers, whereas no increased risks were found for cattle, beef, pig, or chicken farm residents or workers. A modestly increased risk was observed for pesticides (OR 1.3, 95% CI 0.9-1.8). Significantly increased risks were found for pharmacists, dieticians and therapists (OR 6.1, 95% CI 1.7-22.5), service occupations (OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.02-1.7), roofers (OR 3.3, 95% CI 1.1-9.8), precision printing occupations (OR 10.1, 95% CI 1.03-99.8), heating equipment operators (OR 4.7, 95% CI 1.4-15.8), and hand molders and casters (OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.0-8.4).


A modest increased risk of multiple myeloma is suggested for occupational pesticide exposure. The increased risk for sheep farm residents or workers indicates that certain animal viruses may be involved in myeloma risk.

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