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Am J Epidemiol. 2004 Dec 15;160(12):1194-204.

Pesticide use and menstrual cycle characteristics among premenopausal women in the Agricultural Health Study.

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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.


Menstrual cycle characteristics may have implications for women's fecundability and risk of hormonally related diseases. Certain pesticides disrupt the estrous cycle in animals. The authors investigated the cross-sectional association between pesticide use and menstrual function among 3,103 women living on farms in Iowa and North Carolina. Women were aged 21-40 years, premenopausal, not pregnant or breastfeeding, and not taking oral contraceptives. At study enrollment (1993-1997), women completed two self-administered questionnaires on pesticide use and reproductive health. Exposures of interest were lifetime use of any pesticide and hormonally active pesticides. Menstrual cycle characteristics of interest included cycle length, missed periods, and intermenstrual bleeding. The authors used generalized estimating equations to assess the association between pesticide use and menstrual cycle characteristics, controlling for age, body mass index, and current smoking status. Women who used pesticides experienced longer menstrual cycles and increased odds of missed periods (odds ratio = 1.5, 95% confidence interval: 1.2, 1.9) compared with women who never used pesticides. Women who used probable hormonally active pesticides had a 60-100% increased odds of experiencing long cycles, missed periods, and intermenstrual bleeding compared with women who had never used pesticides. Associations remained after control for occupational physical activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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