Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Pesticide Product Use and Risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Women

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Pesticide Product Use and Risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Women

Article excerpt

A population-based, incidence case-control study was conducted among women in upstate New York to determine whether pesticide exposure is associated with an increase in risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) among women. The study involved 376 cases of NHL identified through the State Cancer Registry and 463 controls selected from the Medicare beneficiary files and state driver's license records. Information about history of farm work, history of other jobs associated with pesticide exposure, use of common household pesticide products, and potential confounding variables was obtained by telephone interview. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using an unconditional logistic regression model. The risk of NHL was doubled (OR = 2.12; 95% CI, 1.21-3.71) among women who worked for at least 10 years at a farm where pesticides were reportedly used. When both farming and other types of jobs associated with pesticide exposure were combined, there was a progressive increase in risk of NHL with increasing duration of such work (p = 0.005). Overall cumulative frequency of use of household pesticide products was positively associated with risk of NHL (p = 0.004), which was most pronounced when they were applied by subjects themselves. When exposure was analyzed by type of products used, a significant association was observed for mothballs. The associations with both occupational and household pesticides were particularly elevated if exposure started in 1950-1969 and for high-grade NHL. Although the results of this case-control study suggest that exposure to pesticide products may be associated with an increased risk of NHL among women, methodologic limitations related to selection and recall bias suggest caution in inferring causation. Key words: case--control study, mothballs, NHL, pesticides. Environ Health Persfect 112:1275-1281 (2004). doi:10.1289/ehp.7070 available via http://dx.doi.org/[Online 3 June 2004]

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that approximately 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides were used in the United States in 1999 (Donaldson et al. 2002), which was equivalent to 4.4 pounds per capita in the U.S. population. Of these pesticides, 76% were used in agriculture, 11% in other industries/governments, and 13% in homes and gardens; also, they were used by 77% of U.S. households and 1.2 million certified professional applicators (Donaldson et al. 2002). Despite a recent decline in overall usage after a marked increase in the 1950s and 1960s, and despite the fact that registrations of some pesticides found to have unacceptable toxicity have been canceled, there has been a concern about their long-term effects on human health, because some pesticides persist in human tissues, soil, foods, and the home environment (Muller 2000).

One of the major health concerns is carcinogenicity. More than 30 pesticides or groups of pesticides have been identified as possible carcinogens to humans by several national and international institutions [International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 1987, 1991; U.S. EPA 2004]. Pesticides may increase the risk of cancer through various mechanisms. Some are known to be genotoxic (mutagenic) or tumor promotive, whereas others possess hormonal, immunotoxic, or hematotoxic properties (Acquavella et al. 2003; Dich et al. 1997). Furthermore, it has been reported that exposure to certain pesticides synergistically increases the mutagenicity of diet-derived heterocyclic amines (Wagner et al. 2003). Higher frequencies of chromosome aberrations, sister chromatid exchanges, and micronuclei have been observed in peripheral lymphocytes of pesticide applicators and certain groups of farmers (Bolognesi 2003; Maroni and Fait 1993). Because of these chromosome abnormalities, cancers in the hematolymphoid tissues [e.g., non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and leukemia] have been a central issue in the evaluation for potential health consequences of pesticide exposure. …

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