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Environ Health Perspect. Jun 1998; 106(Suppl 3): 893–908.
PMCID: PMC1533072
Research Article
Pesticides and childhood cancer.
S H Zahm and M H Ward
Occupational Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland 20892, USA. zahms@epndce.nci.nih.gov
Abstract
Children are exposed to potentially carcinogenic pesticides from use in homes, schools, other buildings, lawns and gardens, through food and contaminated drinking water, from agricultural application drift, overspray, or off-gassing, and from carry-home exposure of parents occupationally exposed to pesticides. Parental exposure during the child's gestation or even preconception may also be important. Malignancies linked to pesticides in case reports or case-control studies include leukemia, neuroblastoma, Wilms' tumor, soft-tissue sarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and cancers of the brain, colorectum, and testes. Although these studies have been limited by nonspecific pesticide exposure information, small numbers of exposed subjects, and the potential for case-response bias, it is noteworthy that many of the reported increased risks are of greater magnitude than those observed in studies of pesticide-exposed adults, suggesting that children may be particularly sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of pesticides. Future research should include improved exposure assessment, evaluation of risk by age at exposure, and investigation of possible genetic-environment interactions. There is potential to prevent at least some childhood cancer by reducing or eliminating pesticide exposure.
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