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Ann Ig. 2014 May-Jun;26(3):255-63. doi: 10.7416/ai.2014.1983.

Cancer risk among farmers in the Province of Vercelli (Italy) from 2002 to 2005: an ecological study.

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Department of Translational Medicine, University of Eastern Piedmont "Amedeo Avogadro", Novara, Italy.
Department of Brain and Behavioural Sciences, Section of Biostatistics, Neurophysiology and Psychiatry, Unit of Medical Statistics and Computational Genomics - Clinical Epidemiology and Health Planning Laboratory, University of Pavia, Italy.
Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, University of Turin, Orbassano, Turin, Italy.
Health Services Research Group, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Leuven, Belgium.



As the link between agricultural pesticides and numerous types of human cancers is wellknown. Farmers living in the Province of Vercelli (Italy) were observed to verify if they have a higher cancer risk than the rest of the local employed population. Literature showed a well-known excess of cancer morbidity and mortality in the Province of Vercelli, but only few studies focused on cancer incidence in local farmers. Studying farmers could allow to assess the causal importance respectively of environmental pressure and professional exposure factors in explaining cancer excesses in the above-mentioned area.


The present ecological study considered all cancer new cases recorded among the mean employed population with a range of age from 25 to 84 years and resident in the Province of Vercelli during the four-year period 2002-2005. Cancer odds ratios, by gender and type of cancer, between farmers and non-farmers were calculated.


Farmers showed a higher risk for the following tumors: colorectal (OR 2.38, IC95%: 1,76-2,87), leaukaemia (OR 2.65, IC95%:2,12-2,89), digestive system (OR 2.16, IC95% 1,92-2,33), lymphoma OR 2.08, IC95%:1,99-2,23), melanoma (OR 2.90, IC95%:2,54-3,15), myeloma OR 3.55, IC95%:3,23-3,70), pancreas OR 3.38, IC95%:3,14-3,61), lung (1.59, IC95%:1,12-2,38) and kidney (2.70, IC95%:2,41-2,99). Males showed a higher risk for lung cancer, females for liver neoplasm, melanoma and lymphoma.


Farmers showed a higher risk for several cancers. Further studies are needed, in order to examine in detail the issue, to encourage the use of personal protective equipment and to promote a more responsible pesticides use.

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