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Cancer Res. 1990 Oct 15;50(20):6585-91.

Pesticide exposures and other agricultural risk factors for leukemia among men in Iowa and Minnesota.

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  • 1Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Mortality surveys and death certificate studies have suggested an association between leukemia and farming. To investigate whether exposure to carcinogens in an agricultural setting is related to risk of leukemia, the authors conducted a population-based case-control interview study of 578 white men with leukemia and 1245 controls living in Iowa and Minnesota. Consistent with recent mortality studies, there were slight, but significant, elevations in risk for all leukemia [odds ratio (OR) 1.2] and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (OR 1.4) for farmers compared to nonfarmers. There were no significant associations with leukemia for exposure to specific fungicides, herbicides (including 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T), or crop insecticides. However, significantly elevated risks for leukemia of greater than or equal to 2.0 were seen for exposure to specific animal insecticides including the organophosphates crotoxyphos (OR 11.1), dichlorvos (OR 2.0), and famphur (OR 2.2) and the natural product pyrethrins (OR 3.7) and the chlorinated hydrocarbon methoxychlor (OR 2.2). There were also smaller, but significant, risks associated with exposure to nicotine (OR 1.6) and DDT (OR 1.3). This finding of elevated risks for insecticides used on animals deserves further evaluation.

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