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Cancer risk among female agricultural workers: a multi-center case-control study
Linköping University, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Istituto Superiore di Sanitá, Rome, Italy.
Istituto Superiore di Sanitá, Rome, Italy.
IARC, Lyon, France.
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1999 (English)In: American Journal of Industrial Medicine, ISSN 0271-3586, E-ISSN 1097-0274, Vol. 36, no 1, 135-141 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

Cancer risk among women engaged in farming has been poorly investigated. This group of female workers is of particular interest, however, since they may experience exposure to several potential agricultural hazards.

Methods

A hospital-based case-control study was conducted in five Italian rural areas to examine the association between cancer and farming among women. The areas selected were located in three different regions (i.e., Piedmont, Tuscany, and Emilia-Romagna). The following cancer sites were selected for the study: stomach, colon, rectum, lung, skin melanoma, skin non-melanoma, breast, cervix and corpus uteri, ovary, bladder, kidney. Cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were also included. Altogether, 1,044 newly diagnosed cases aged 20–75 years were ascertained from hospital records from March 1990 to September 1992, and for 945 of them detailed information was collected by a standard questionnaire. The analyses of data were performed comparing each case series to a reference group drawn from among the other sites. Unconditional logistic regression models were used in the statistical analyses.

Results

Statistically significant increased risks in association with farming were estimated for skin melanoma (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.2–5.8) and bladder cancer (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.2–6.1). Lung cancer was also found increased but not at a statistically significant level (OR 1.7, 95% CI 0.7–4.4). An OR lower than unity was observed for postmenopausal breast cancer (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.3–0.7).

Conclusions

The present study suggests that women in farming might experience increased risk of cancers, not usually found in excess among male farmers, as well as a protective effect for postmenopausal breast cancer. The role of different patterns of exposure or gender specific responses should be considered in further studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
1999. Vol. 36, no 1, 135-141 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-25776DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0274(199907)36:1<135::AID-AJIM19>3.0.CO;2-HLocal ID: 10211OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-25776DiVA: diva2:246324
Available from: 2009-10-08 Created: 2009-10-08 Last updated: 2012-10-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Cancer risks and immunological effects in agriculture
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cancer risks and immunological effects in agriculture
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In general, farmers and agricultural workers are characterized by relatively low mortality rates when considering all causes of death and deaths due to all types of cancer. However, several studies have shown that this occupational category tend to be at increased risks of developing the following forms of malignancies: leukaemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the skin, lip, prostate, stomach, brain, and connective tissue. Although the reported excesses have not been consistent in different studies, they nevertheless suggest that agricultural exposures, especially pesticides, contribute to cancer aetiology through different mechanisms of action. It has been hypothesised that immunotoxic effects may play a role, since most of the malignancies found to be increased in workers employed in agriculture are also elevated in patients suffering from innnunodeficiencies. The present studies were conducted to ascertain whether agricultural activities and exposures influence the risk of developing cancer, and to evaluate the innnunological effects of phenoxy herbicides as possibly important for the aetiology of lymphomas.

Different types of cancer were considered in relation to farming in two case-control studies, focused one on men and the other on women. A decreased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer (odds ratio [OR] 0.4) and an excess of skin melanoma (OR 2.7) and bladder cancer (OR 2.7) were observed in the women. The main finding in the men was an excess of prostate cancer (OR 1.5). Further analyses showed that this malignancy was associated with exposure to chlorinated compounds (OR 2.5), and, more specifically, to DDT (OR 2.1) and dicofol and tetradifon (OR 2.8).

Mortality in selected groups of farmers and their relatives was investigated in two cohort studies. Farmers and their wives showed reduced mortality from all causes and all cancers although there was a tendency towards increased risk of leukaemia, particularly among wives of pesticide users (standardised mortality ratio [SMR] 2.4). Adult sons and daughters of green-house owners exhibited increased mortality from all types of cancer (SMR 1.9).

A study was also performed to compare pre- and post-exposure values of selected immunological parameters in a group of ten farmers exposed to phenoxy herbicides. The most notable fmdings were reduced levels of the following: circulating natural killer (NK) cells (-38%), NK cytotoxic activity (-53%), and lymphocyte response to mitogenic stimulation (-50%).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet, 2003. 49 p.
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 779
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-26668 (URN)11234 (Local ID)91-7373-538-8 (ISBN)11234 (Archive number)11234 (OAI)
Public defence
2003-04-08, Aulan, Hälsans hus, Universitetssjukhuset, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Available from: 2009-10-08 Created: 2009-10-08 Last updated: 2012-10-15Bibliographically approved

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