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Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Aug;113(8):993-1000.

Residential proximity to agricultural pesticide use and incidence of breast cancer in California, 1988-1997.

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California Department of Health Services, Environmental Health Investigations Branch, Oakland, California 94612, USA.


California is the largest agricultural state in the United States and home to some of the world's highest breast cancer rates. The objective of our study was to evaluate whether California breast cancer rates were elevated in areas with recent high agricultural pesticide use. We identified population-based invasive breast cancer cases from the California Cancer Registry for 1988-1997. We used California's pesticide use reporting data to select pesticides for analysis based on use volume, carcinogenic potential, and exposure potential. Using 1990 and 2000 U.S. Census data, we derived age- and race-specific population counts for the time period of interest. We used a geographic information system to aggregate cases, population counts, and pesticide use data for all block groups in the state. To evaluate whether breast cancer rates were related to recent agricultural pesticide use, we computed rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals using Poisson regression models, adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and neighborhood socioeconomic status and urbanization. This ecologic (aggregative) analysis included 176,302 invasive breast cancer cases and 70,968,598 person-years of observation. The rate ratios did not significantly differ from 1 for any of the selected pesticide categories or individual agents. The results from this study provide no evidence that California women living in areas of recent, high agricultural pesticide use experience higher rates of breast cancer.

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