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Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Sep;112(13):1275-81.

Pesticide product use and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in women.

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Department of Environmental Medicine, New York University of School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.


A population-based, incidence case-control study was conducted among women in upstate New York to determine whether pesticide exposure is associated with an increase in risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) among women. The study involved 376 cases of NHL identified through the State Cancer Registry and 463 controls selected from the Medicare beneficiary files and state driver's license records. Information about history of farm work, history of other jobs associated with pesticide exposure, use of common household pesticide products, and potential confounding variables was obtained by telephone interview. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using an unconditional logistic regression model. The risk of NHL was doubled (OR = 2.12; 95% CI, 1.21-3.71) among women who worked for at least 10 years at a farm where pesticides were reportedly used. When both farming and other types of jobs associated with pesticide exposure were combined, there was a progressive increase in risk of NHL with increasing duration of such work (p = 0.005). Overall cumulative frequency of use of household pesticide products was positively associated with risk of NHL (p = 0.004), which was most pronounced when they were applied by subjects themselves. When exposure was analyzed by type of products used, a significant association was observed for mothballs. The associations with both occupational and household pesticides were particularly elevated if exposure started in 1950-1969 and for high-grade NHL. Although the results of this case-control study suggest that exposure to pesticide products may be associated with an increased risk of NHL among women, methodologic limitations related to selection and recall bias suggest caution in inferring causation.

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