Acute organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposure is associated with adverse central nervous system (CNS) outcomes, however, little is known about the neurotoxicity of chronic exposures that do not result in acute poisoning. To examine associations between long-term pesticide use and CNS function, neurobehavioral (NB) tests were administered to licensed pesticide applicators enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) in Iowa and North Carolina. Between 2006 and 2008, 701 male participants completed nine NB tests to assess memory, motor speed and coordination, sustained attention, verbal learning and visual scanning and processing. Data on ever-use and lifetime days of use of 16 OP pesticides were obtained from AHS interviews conducted before testing between 1993 and 2007 and during the NB visit. The mean age of participants was 61 years (SD = 12). Associations between pesticide use and NB test performance were estimated with linear regression controlling for age and outcome-specific covariates. NB test performance was associated with lifetime days of use of some pesticides. Ethoprop was significantly associated with reduced performance on a test of motor speed and visual scanning. Malathion was significantly associated with poor performance on a test of visual scanning and processing. Conversely, we observed significantly better test performance for five OP pesticides. Specifically, chlorpyrifos, coumaphos, parathion, phorate, and tetrachlorvinphos were associated with better verbal learning and memory; coumaphos was associated with better performance on a test of motor speed and visual scanning; and parathion was associated with better performance on a test of sustained attention. Several associations varied by state. Overall, our results do not provide strong evidence that long-term OP pesticide use is associated with adverse CNS-associated NB test performance among this older sample of pesticide applicators. Potential reasons for these mostly null associations include a true absence of effect as well as possible selective participation by healthier applicators.
agricultural workers; epidemiology; organophosphates; neuropsychological testing; pesticide exposure
The Agricultural Health Study (AHS) is a prospective study of licensed pesticide applicators (largely farmers) and their spouses in Iowa and North Carolina. We evaluate the impact of occupational pesticide exposure misclassification on relative risks using data from the cohort and the AHS Pesticide Exposure Study (AHS/PES).
We assessed the impact of exposure misclassification on relative risks using the range of correlation coefficients observed between measured post-application urinary levels of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and chlorpyrifos metabolite and exposure estimates based on an algorithm from 83 AHS pesticide applications.
The correlations between urinary levels of 2,4-D and chlorpyrifos metabolite and estimated exposure intensity scores from the expert-derived algorithm were about 0.4 for 2,4-D (n=64), 0.8 for liquid chlorpyrifos (n=4), and 0.6 for granular chlorpyrifos (n=12). Correlations of urinary levels with individual exposure determinants (e.g., kilograms of active ingredient used, duration of application, or number of acres treated) were lower and ranged from −0.36 to 0.19. These findings indicate that scores from an a priori expert-derived algorithm developed for the AHS were more closely related to measured urinary levels than the several individual exposure determinants evaluated here. Estimates of potential bias in relative risks observed in the AHS based on the correlations from the AHS/PES and the proportion of the AHS cohort exposed to various pesticides indicate that nondifferential misclassification of exposure using the algorithm would bias some estimates toward the null, but less than the misclassification associated with individual exposure determinants.
Based on these correlations and the proportion of the AHS cohort exposed to various pesticides, the potential bias in relative risks from nondifferential exposure misclassification is reduced when exposure estimates are based on an expert algorithm compared to estimates based on separate individual exposure determinants often used in epidemiologic studies. Although correlations between algorithm scores and urinary levels were quite good (i.e., correlations between 0.4 and 0.8), exposure misclassification would still bias relative risk estimates in the AHS towards the null and diminish study power.
Previous research demonstrates increased prostate cancer risk for pesticide applicators and pesticide manufacturing workers. Although underlying mechanisms are unknown, human biomonitoring studies indicate increased genetic damage (e.g. chromosomal aberrations) with pesticide exposure. Given that the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway repairs a broad range of DNA damage, we evaluated interactions between pesticide exposure and 324 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) tagging 27 NER genes among 776 prostate cancer cases and 1444 male controls in a nested case–control study of white Agricultural Health Study pesticide applicators. We determined interaction P values using likelihood ratio tests from logistic regression models and three-level pesticide variables (none/low/high) based on lifetime days of use weighted to an intensity score. We adjusted for multiple comparisons using the false discovery rate (FDR) method. Of the 17 interactions that met FDR <0.2, 3 displayed a monotonic increase in prostate cancer risk with increasing exposure in one genotype group and no significant association in the other group. Men carrying the variant A allele at ERCC1 rs2298881 exhibited increased prostate cancer risk with high versus no fonofos use [odds ratio (OR) 2.98; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.65–5.39; Pinteract = 3.6 × 10−4; FDR-adjusted P = 0.11]. Men carrying the homozygous wild-type TT genotype at two correlated CDK7 SNPs, rs11744596 and rs2932778 (r2 = 1.0), exhibited increased risk with high versus no carbofuran use (OR 2.01; 95% CI 1.31–3.10 for rs11744596; Pinteract = 7.2 × 10−4; FDR-adjusted P = 0.09). In contrast, we did not observe associations among men with other genotypes at these loci. While requiring replication, our findings suggest a role for NER genetic variation in pesticide-associated prostate cancer risk.
In a pooled analysis of 4 US epidemiologic studies (1993–2001), the authors evaluated the role of 5 female reproductive factors in 357 women with glioma and 822 controls. The authors further evaluated the independent association between 5 implicated gene variants and glioma risk among the study population, as well as the joint associations of female reproductive factors (ages at menarche and menopause, menopausal status, use of oral contraceptives, and menopausal hormone therapy) and these gene variants on glioma risk. Risk estimates were calculated as odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals that were adjusted for age, race, and study. Three of the gene variants (rs4295627, a variant of CCDC26; rs4977756, a variant of CDKN2A and CDKN2B; and rs6010620, a variant of RTEL1) were statistically significantly associated with glioma risk in the present population. Compared with women who had an early age at menarche (<12 years of age), those who reported menarche at 12–13 years of age or at 14 years of age or older had a 1.7-fold higher risk and a 1.9-fold higher risk of glioma, respectively (P for trend = 0.009). Postmenopausal women and women who reported ever having used oral contraceptives had a decreased risk of glioma. The authors did not observe joint associations between these reproductive characteristics and the implicated glioma gene variants. These results require replication, but if confirmed, they would suggest that the gene variants that have previously been implicated in the development of glioma are unlikely to act through the same hormonal mechanisms in women.
genes; glioma; menstrual cycle; polymorphism, single nucleotide; reproduction; women
To explore associations with prostate cancer and farming, it is important to investigate the relationship between pesticide use and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in xenobiotic metabolic enzyme (XME) genes.
We evaluated pesticide-SNP interactions between 45 pesticides and 1,913 XME SNPs with respect to prostate cancer among 776 cases and 1,444 controls in the Agricultural Health Study.
We used unconditional logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Multiplicative SNP-pesticide interactions were calculated using a likelihood ratio test.
A positive monotonic interaction was observed between petroleum oil/petroleum distillate use and rs1883633 in the oxidative stress gene glutamate-cysteine ligase (GCLC) (p-interaction=1.0×10−4); men carrying at least one variant allele (minor allele) experienced an increased prostate cancer risk (OR=3.7, 95% CI: 1.9–7.3). Among men carrying the variant allele for thioredoxin reductase 2 (TXNRD2) rs4485648, microsomal epoxide hyrdolase 1 (EPHX1) rs17309872, or myeloperoxidase (MPO) rs11079344, increased prostate cancer risk was observed with high compared to no petroleum oil/petroleum distillate (OR=1.9, 95% CI: 1.1–3.2, p-interaction=0.01), (OR=2.1, 95% CI: 1.1–4.0, p-interaction=0.01), or terbufos (OR=3.0, 95% CI: 1.5–6.0 p-interaction=2.0×10−3) use, respectively. No interactions were deemed noteworthy at the false discovery rate = 0.20 level; the number of observed interactions in XMEs was comparable to the number expected by chance alone.
We observed several pesticide-SNP interactions in oxidative stress and phase I/phase II enzyme genes and risk of prostate cancer. Additional work is needed to explain the joint contribution of genetic variation in XMEs, pesticide use, and prostate cancer risk.
Prostate cancer; pesticides; xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes; single nucleotide polymorphism; interaction
Pesticide exposures can be reduced by use of personal protective equipment as well as proper mixing and application practices. We examined the effects of risk-accepting personality on personal protective equipment (PPE) use and mixing and application practices among private pesticide applicators and their spouses within the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) in Iowa and North Carolina and commercial applicators in Iowa. The AHS follow-up questionnaire included four questions designed to assess attitudes toward risk. Analysis was limited to those who were currently working on a farm or registered as a commercial applicator and indicated current pesticide use (n=25,166). Respondents who answered three or more questions in the affirmative (private applicators: n=4,160 (21%); commercial applicators: n=199 (14%); spouses: n=829 (23%)) were classified as having a risk-accepting personality. Logistic regression was used to evaluate specific work practices associated with risk-accepting attitudes. Among private applicators, the likelihood of using any PPE when mixing or loading pesticides was lower among risk-acceptors compared to risk-averse individuals (odds ratio (OR) = 0.72; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.65 – 0.79). A similar relationship was observed among commercial applicators (OR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.34 – 1.77) but not among spouses (OR = 1.09, 95% CI: 0.90 – 1.33). Among private applicators, risk-acceptors were more likely than the risk-averse to apply pesticides within 50 ft of the home (OR=1.21; 95% CI: 1.01 – 1.44), compared to further than ¼ mile. Our findings suggest that the decisions to use personal protective equipment and properly handle/apply pesticides may be driven by risk-accepting personality traits.
personal protective equipment; risk-accepting behavior; Agricultural Health Study; pesticide
Background. Lipid metabolism processes have been implicated in prostate carcinogenesis. Since several pesticides are lipophilic or are metabolized via lipid-related mechanisms, they may interact with variants of genes in the lipid metabolism pathway. Methods. In a nested case-control study of 776 cases and 1444 controls from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), a prospective cohort study of pesticide applicators, we examined the interactions between 39 pesticides (none, low, and high exposure) and 220 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 59 genes. The false discovery rate (FDR) was used to account for multiple comparisons. Results. We found 17 interactions that displayed a significant monotonic increase in prostate cancer risk with pesticide exposure in one genotype and no significant association in the other genotype. The most noteworthy association was for ALOXE3 rs3027208 and terbufos, such that men carrying the T allele who were low users had an OR of 1.86 (95% CI = 1.16–2.99) and high users an OR of 2.00 (95% CI = 1.28–3.15) compared to those with no use of terbufos, while men carrying the CC genotype did not exhibit a significant association. Conclusion. Genetic variation in lipid metabolism genes may modify pesticide associations with prostate cancer; however our results require replication.
The Agricultural Health Study (AHS), a large prospective cohort, was designed to elucidate associations between pesticide use and other agricultural exposures and health outcomes. The cohort includes 57,310 pesticide applicators who were enrolled between 1993 and 1997 in Iowa and North Carolina. A follow-up questionnaire administered 5 years later was completed by 36,342 (63%) of the original participants. Missing pesticide use information from participants who did not complete the second questionnaire impedes both long-term pesticide exposure estimation and statistical inference of risk for health outcomes. Logistic regression and stratified sampling were used to impute key variables related to the use of specific pesticides for 20,968 applicators who did not complete the second questionnaire. To assess the imputation procedure, a 20% random sample of participants was withheld for comparison. The observed and imputed prevalence of any pesticide use in the holdout dataset were 85.7% and 85.3%, respectively. The distribution of prevalence and days/year of use for specific pesticides were similar across observed and imputed in the holdout sample. When appropriately implemented, multiple imputation can reduce bias and increase precision and can be more valid than other missing data approaches.
agriculture; cohort studies; missing data; pesticides; precision
Objectives: To identify and quantify determinants of captan exposure among 74 private orchard pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). To adjust an algorithm used for estimating pesticide exposure intensity in the AHS based on these determinants and to compare the correlation of the adjusted and unadjusted algorithms with urinary captan metabolite levels.
Methods: External exposure metrics included personal air, hand rinse, and dermal patch samples collected from each applicator on 2 days in 2002–2003. A 24-h urine sample was also collected. Exposure determinants were identified for each external metric using multiple linear regression models via the NLMIXED procedure in SAS. The AHS algorithm was adjusted, consistent with the identified determinants. Mixed-effect models were used to evaluate the correlation between the adjusted and unadjusted algorithm and urinary captan metabolite levels.
Results: Consistent determinants of captan exposure were a measure of application size (kilogram of captan sprayed or application method), wearing chemical-resistant (CR) gloves and/or a coverall/suit, repairing spray equipment, and product formulation. Application by airblast was associated with a 4- to 5-fold increase in exposure as compared to hand spray. Exposure reduction to the hands, right thigh, and left forearm from wearing CR gloves averaged ∼80%, to the right and left thighs and right forearm from wearing a coverall/suit by ∼70%. Applicators using wettable powder formulations had significantly higher air, thigh, and forearm exposures than those using liquid formulations. Application method weights in the AHS algorithm were adjusted to nine for airblast and two for hand spray; protective equipment reduction factors were adjusted to 0.2 (CR gloves), 0.3 (coverall/suit), and 0.1 (both).
Conclusions: Adjustment of application method, CR glove, and coverall weights in the AHS algorithm based on our exposure determinant findings substantially improved the correlation between the AHS algorithm and urinary metabolite levels.
agriculture; captan; dermal exposure—pesticides, determinants of exposure; exposure assessment—mixed models; orchards; pesticide exposure; variance components
Heavy carrying and lifting (HCL) is a common activity among farmers that may be related to health. The aim of this study was to examine HCL as a proxy for occupational physical activity (PA) among farm residents. The secondary objective was to evaluate PA based on HCL.
Data from 21,296 farmers and 30,951 spouses in the Agricultural Health Study examined the relationship between HCL and farm activities and individual/farm characteristics. HCL was categorized as ≥1 or <1 hours per day. The association between HCL and farm activities (15 for farmers; 16 for spouses) and individual/farm characteristics was examined using adjusted logistic regression. To evaluate PA, we created a PA activity index using metabolic equivalents for HCL, and compared PA weekly averages with national guidelines.
In adjusted results, most farm activities were significantly associated with HCL. Based on HCL, farmers had a median of 1.5 hours and spouses 0.5 hours of vigorous or muscle-strengthening PA per day. Most farmers (94%) and about 60% of spouses meet or exceed 2008 national guidelines for vigorous or muscle-strengthening PA.
Findings suggest the HCL measure may be useful as a PA metric in future studies of occupational PA among farm residents.
Occupational Physical Activity; Muscle Strengthening; Resistance Exercise
Background: Evidence is limited that long-term human exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides, without poisoning, is associated with adverse peripheral nervous system (PNS) function.
Objective: We investigated associations between OP pesticide use and PNS function by administering PNS tests to 701 male pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS).
Methods: Participants completed a neurological physical examination (NPx) and electrophysiological tests as well as tests of hand strength, sway speed, and vibrotactile threshold. Self-reported information on lifetime use of 16 OP pesticides was obtained from AHS interviews and a study questionnaire. Associations between pesticide use and measures of PNS function were estimated with linear and logistic regression controlling for age and outcome-specific covariates.
Results: Significantly increased odds ratios (ORs) were observed for associations between ever use of 10 of the 16 OP pesticides and one or more of six NPx outcomes. Most notably, abnormal toe proprioception was significantly associated with ever use of 6 OP pesticides, with ORs ranging from 2.03 to 3.06; monotonic increases in strength of association with increasing use was observed for 3 of the 6 pesticides. Mostly null associations were observed between OP pesticide use and electrophysiological tests, hand strength, sway speed, and vibrotactile threshold.
Conclusions: This study provides some evidence that long-term exposure to OP pesticides is associated with signs of impaired PNS function among pesticide applicators.
agricultural workers; neurological testing; occupational exposure; organophosphates; pesticide exposure
Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is the leading cause of acute peripheral neuropathy worldwide, often associated with recent foodborne infection with Campylobacter jejuni. In this cross-sectional analysis of data from the Agricultural Health Study, we tested whether swine and poultry exposure were associated with increased prevalence of GBS-like neurologic symptoms.
Using multivariate analysis, we tested the symptoms such as numbness and weakness, relevant to inflammatory peripheral neuropathies, among farmers with self-reported occupational poultry or swine exposure compared with farmers who reported no occupational animal exposure.
Among swine farmers/workers, prevalence of weakness and numbness were increased (P< 0.05). Among poultry farmers/workers, prevalence of weakness and numbness were increased, but increased prevalence of weakness was not statistically significant.
Occupational contact with live poultry or swine, potentially related to C. jejuni exposure, was associated with increased reporting of GBS-like symptoms.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome; Campylobacter jejuni; peripheral neuropathy; farmer; Agricultural Health Study; swine; poultry
Genetic variation on the Y chromosome has not been convincingly implicated in prostate cancer risk. To comprehensively analyze the role of inherited Y chromosome variation in prostate cancer risk in individuals of European ancestry, we genotyped 34 binary Y chromosome markers in 3,995 prostate cancer cases and 3,815 control subjects drawn from four studies. In this set, we identified nominally significant association between a rare haplogroup, E1b1b1c, and prostate cancer in stage I (P = 0.012, OR = 0.51; 95% confidence interval 0.30–0.87). Population substructure of E1b1b1c carriers suggested Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, prompting a replication phase in individuals of both European and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. The association was not significant for prostate cancer overall in studies of either Ashkenazi Jewish (1,686 cases and 1,597 control subjects) or European (686 cases and 734 control subjects) ancestry (Pmeta = 0.078), but a meta-analysis of stage I and II studies revealed a nominally significant association with prostate cancer risk (Pmeta = 0.010, OR = 0.77; 95% confidence interval 0.62–0.94). Comparing haplogroup frequencies between studies, we noted strong similarities between those conducted in the US and France, in which the majority of men carried R1 haplogroups, resembling Northwestern European populations. On the other hand, Finns had a remarkably different haplogroup distribution with a preponderance of N1c and I1 haplogroups. In summary, our results suggest that inherited Y chromosome variation plays a limited role in prostate cancer etiology in European populations but warrant follow-up in additional large and well characterized studies of multiple ethnic backgrounds.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00439-012-1139-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Comparing agricultural cohorts with the general population is challenging because the general healthiness of farmers may mask potential adverse health effects of farming. Using data from the Agricultural Health Study, a cohort of 89,656 pesticide applicators and their spouses (N = 89, 656) in North Carolina and Iowa, the authors computed standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) comparing deaths from time of the enrollment (1993–1997) through 2007 to state-specific rates. To compensate for the cohort's overall healthiness, relative SMRs were estimated by calculating the SMR for each cause relative to the SMR for all other causes. In 1,198,129 person-years of follow-up, 6,419 deaths were observed. The all-cause mortality rate was less than expected (SMRapplicators = 0.54, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.52, 0.55; SMRspouses = 0.52, 95% CI: 0.50, 0.55). SMRs for all cancers, heart disease, and diabetes were significantly below 1.0. In contrast, applicators experienced elevated numbers of machine-related deaths (SMR = 4.15, 95% CI: 3.18, 5.31), motor vehicle nontraffic accidents (SMR = 2.80, 95% CI: 1.81, 4.14), and collisions with objects (SMR = 2.12, 95% CI: 1.25, 3.34). In the relative SMR analysis for applicators, the relative mortality ratio was elevated for lymphohematopoietic cancers, melanoma, and digestive system, prostate, kidney, and brain cancers. Among spouses, relative SMRs exceeded 1.0 for lymphohematopoietic cancers and malignancies of the digestive system, brain, breast, and ovary. Unintentional fatal injuries remain an important risk for farmers; mortality ratios from several cancers were elevated relative to other causes.
agriculture; healthy worker effect; mortality; neoplasms; pesticides; wounds and injuries
Background: Previous research indicates increased prostate cancer risk for pesticide applicators and pesticide manufacturing workers. Although underlying mechanisms are unknown, evidence suggests a role of oxidative DNA damage.
Objectives: Because base excision repair (BER) is the predominant pathway involved in repairing oxidative damage, we evaluated interactions between 39 pesticides and 394 tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for 31 BER genes among 776 prostate cancer cases and 1,444 male controls in a nested case–control study of white Agricultural Health Study (AHS) pesticide applicators.
Methods: We used likelihood ratio tests from logistic regression models to determine p-values for interactions between three-level pesticide exposure variables (none/low/high) and SNPs (assuming a dominant model), and the false discovery rate (FDR) multiple comparison adjustment approach.
Results: The interaction between fonofos and rs1983132 in NEIL3 [nei endonuclease VIII-like 3 (Escherichia coli)], which encodes a glycosylase that can initiate BER, was the most significant overall [interaction p-value (pinteract) = 9.3 × 10–6; FDR-adjusted p-value = 0.01]. Fonofos exposure was associated with a monotonic increase in prostate cancer risk among men with CT/TT genotypes for rs1983132 [odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for low and high use compared with no use were 1.65 (0.91, 3.01) and 3.25 (1.78, 5.92), respectively], whereas fonofos was not associated with prostate cancer risk among men with the CC genotype. Carbofuran and S-ethyl dipropylthiocarbamate (EPTC) interacted similarly with rs1983132; however, these interactions did not meet an FDR < 0.2.
Conclusions: Our significant finding regarding fonofos is consistent with previous AHS findings of increased prostate cancer risk with fonofos exposure among those with a family history of prostate cancer. Although requiring replication, our findings suggest a role of BER genetic variation in pesticide-associated prostate cancer risk.
DNA repair; gene–environment interactions; pesticide; polymorphisms; prostate cancer
An algorithm developed to estimate pesticide exposure intensity for use in epidemiologic analyses was revised based on data from two exposure monitoring studies. In the first study, we estimated relative exposure intensity based on the results of measurements taken during the application of the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) (n = 88) and the insecticide chlorpyrifos (n = 17). Modifications to the algorithm weighting factors were based on geometric means (GM) of post-application urine concentrations for applicators grouped by application method and use of chemically-resistant (CR) gloves. Measurement data from a second study were also used to evaluate relative exposure levels associated with airblast as compared to hand spray application methods. Algorithm modifications included an increase in the exposure reduction factor for use of CR gloves from 40% to 60%, an increase in the application method weight for boom spray relative to in-furrow and for air blast relative to hand spray, and a decrease in the weight for mixing relative to the new weights assigned for application methods. The weighting factors for the revised algorithm now incorporate exposure measurements taken on Agricultural Health Study (AHS) participants for the application methods and personal protective equipment (PPE) commonly reported by study participants.
pesticides; exposure algorithm; epidemiology; 2,4-D; chlorpyrifos; captan
Genome-wide association studies have identified 8q24 region variants as risk factors for prostate cancer. In the Agricultural Health Study, a prospective study of licensed pesticide applicators, we observed increased prostate cancer risk with specific pesticide use among those with a family history of prostate cancer. Thus, we evaluated the interaction between pesticide use, 8q24 variants and prostate cancer risk. The authors estimated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for interactions between 211 8q24 variants, 49 pesticides and prostate cancer risk in 776 cases and 1,444 controls. The ORs for a previously identified variant, rs4242382, and prostate cancer increased significantly (p<0.05) with exposure to the organophosphate insecticide, fonofos, after correction for multiple testing, per allele ORnonexposed= 1.17 (95% CI: 0.93, 1.48), per allele ORlow=1.30 (95% CI: 0.75, 2.27), per allele ORhigh=4.46 (95% CI: 2.17, 9.17), p-interaction=0.002, adjusted p-interaction = 0.02. Similar effect modification was observed for three other organophosphate insecticides, coumaphos, terbufos, and phorate and one pyrethroid insecticide, permethrin. Among ever users of fonofos, subjects with 3 or 4 risk alleles at rs7837328 and rs4242382 had approximately 3 times the risk of prostate cancer (OR=3.14 95% CI: 1.41, 7.00) compared with subjects who had zero risk alleles and never used fonofos. We observed a significant interaction between variants on chromosome 8q24, pesticide use, and risk of prostate cancer. Insecticides, particularly organophosphates, were the strongest modifiers of risk, although the biologic mechanism is unclear. This is the first report of effect modification between 8q24 and an environmental exposure on prostate cancer risk.
Prostate cancer; pesticides; 8q24; single nucleotide polymorphism; interaction
Our objective is to re-evaluate cancer incidence among Agricultural Health Study participants.
Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) and Relative Standardized Ratios were calculated.
A significant excess of prostate cancer was seen for private and commercial applicators, SIR = 1.19 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.14, 1.25) and SIR = 1.28 (95% CI 1.00, 1.61), respectively. Excesses were observed for lip cancer, SIR = 1.97 (95% CI 1.02, 3.44), and multiple myeloma, SIR = 1.42 (95% CI 1.00, 1.95) among private applicators from North Carolina and for marginal zone lymphoma among Iowa spouses, SIR = 2.34 (95% CI 1.21, 4.09).
While lower rates of smoking and increased physical activity probably contribute to the lower overall cancer incidence, agricultural exposures including pesticides, viruses, bacteria, sunlight, and other chemicals may increase risks for specific cancer sites.
Background: An association may exist between pesticide exposure and suicide.
Objective: We sought to evaluate the existence of an association between pesticide use and suicide using data from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), a prospective cohort study of licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses in Iowa and North Carolina.
Methods: Via linkage to state mortality files and the National Death Index, we identified 110 suicides occurring between enrollment in the AHS (from 1993 to 1997) and 31 May 2009, among 81,998 cohort members contributing 1,092,943 person-years of follow-up. The average length of follow-up was 13.3 years. AHS participants provided data on pesticide use and potential confounders via self-administered questionnaires at enrollment. We evaluated several measures of pesticide use: use of any pesticide, ever use of 50 specific pesticides, cumulative lifetime days of use and intensity-adjusted cumulative lifetime days of use of 22 specific pesticides, and ever use of 10 functional and chemical classes of pesticides. We used Cox proportional hazards regression models to estimate adjusted hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
Results: After adjusting for age at enrollment, sex, number of children in family, frequency of alcohol consumption during the past 12 months, and smoking status, we found no association between prior pesticide use and suicide in applicators and their spouses. Results were the same for applicators and spouses together or for applicators alone and were consistent across several measures of pesticide use.
Conclusions: Our findings do not support an association between moderate pesticide use and suicide.
farmers; pesticide applicators; pesticides; spouses; suicide
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often have comorbidities related to immune dysfunction, however, the timing of comorbidities relative to RA diagnosis and treatment is not clear. We studied personal and family medical history correlates of incident and prevalent RA in women.
We used a nested case-control design including women in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). Physician-confirmed cases of RA (n =135) were matched to five controls each (n =675) by birth date. We used logistic regression to examine associations between conditions listed in personal and family medical histories and both incident and prevalent RA, as estimated by odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
The risk of incident RA was associated with personal medical history of nonmelanoma skin cancer (OR =4.4, 95% CI: 1.4–14.1), asthma or reactive lung disease (OR =3.7, 95% CI: 1.3–10.5), and cataract (OR =3.3, 95% CI: 1.0–10.8). Personal history of herpes zoster was associated with prevalent RA (OR = 2.4, 95% CI: 1.2–4.8), but not with incident RA. There were no consistent associations between family medical history and RA.
Patients with medical conditions indicating compromised immunity are at increased risk of developing RA. These results may indicate common pathogenesis of an environmental or genetic nature between such diseases.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Autoimmune Diseases; Autoimmunity; Epidemiology; Medical History; Comorbidities; Family History
Background: Atrazine is a triazine herbicide used widely in the United States. Although it is an animal carcinogen, the mechanism in rodents does not appear to operate in humans. Few epidemiologic studies have provided evidence for an association.
Methods: The Agricultural Health Study (AHS) is a prospective cohort that includes 57,310 licensed pesticide applicators. In this report, we extend a previous AHS analysis of cancer risk associated with self-reported atrazine use with six additional years of follow-up and more than twice as many cancer cases. Using Poisson regression, we calculated relative risk estimates and 95% confidence intervals for lifetime use of atrazine and intensity-weighted lifetime days, which accounts for factors that impact exposure.
Results: Overall, 36,357 (68%) of applicators reported using atrazine, among whom there were 3,146 cancer cases. There was no increase among atrazine users in overall cancer risk or at most cancer sites in the higher exposure categories compared with the lowest. Based on 29 exposed cases of thyroid cancer, there was a statistically significant risk in the second and fourth quartiles of intensity-weighted lifetime days. There was a similar pattern for lifetime days, but neither the risk estimates nor the trend were statistically significant and for neither metric was the trend monotonic.
Conclusions: Overall, there was no consistent evidence of an association between atrazine use and any cancer site. There was a suggestion of increased risk of thyroid cancer, but these results are based on relatively small numbers and minimal supporting evidence.
agriculture; atrazine; cancer; cohort study; epidemiology; pesticide
To investigate whether the positive association of body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) with risk of pancreatic cancer is modified by age, sex, smoking status, physical activity, and history of diabetes.
In a pooled analysis of primary data of seven prospective cohorts including 458,070 men and 485,689 women, we identified 2,454 patients with incident pancreatic cancer during an average 6.9 years of follow-up. Cox proportional hazard regression models were used in data analysis.
In a random-effects meta-analysis, for every 5 kg/m2 increment in BMI, the summary relative risk (RR) was 1.06 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.99–1.13) for men and 1.12 (95% CI 1.05–1.19) for women. The aggregate analysis showed that compared with normal weight (BMI: 18.5 to <25), the adjusted RR was 1.13 (95% CI 1.03–1.23) for overweight (BMI: 25 to <30) and 1.19 (95% CI 1.05–1.35) for obesity class I (BMI: 30 to <35). Tests of interactions of BMI effects by other risk factors were not statistically significant. Every 5 kg/m2 increment in BMI was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer among never and former smokers, but not among current smokers (P-interaction = 0.08).
The present evidence suggests that a high BMI is an independent risk factor of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer; Body mass index; Pooled analysis; Prospective cohort; Effect modification
Obesity is associated with increased risks of several cancers including, colon, lower esophagus, kidney, female breast, and endometrium. Some studies have associated pesticides with higher risks of cancer in agricultural populations. The interaction between obesity and pesticide use on cancer risk has not been well studied. Using data from the Agricultural Health Study we examined the association between body mass index (BMI) and the risk of cancer at 17 sites, and the interaction between BMI and pesticide use. Pesticide applicators (primarly farmers), and their spouses residing in Iowa and North Carolina were enrolled between 1993 and 1997 and followed through 2005. This analysis included 39,628 men and 28,319 women who provided information on pesticide use, height and weight data, and were cancer-free at enrollment. Of all subjects, 64% were overweight or obese, and 4,432 incident cancers were diagnosed during the follow-up period. We found positive associations between BMI (continuous) and colon cancer among men (Hazard Ratio (HR) 1.05, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02–1.09) and breast cancer among postmenopausal women (HR 1.03, 95% CI 1.01–1.06), as well as an inverse association with lung cancer among men who were ever smokers (HR 0.92, 95% CI 0.88–0.96). Men who ever used carbofuran (HR=1.10, 95% CI 1.04–1.17), metolachlor (HR=1.09, 95% CI 1.04–1.15), and alachlor (HR=1.08, 95% CI 1.03–1.13) had significant positive associations between BMI and colon cancer, but non-users did not. Men who ever smoked and used carbofuran had a positive, although not significant, association between BMI and lung cancer, while users of carbofuran had a significant inverse association. These findings, which suggest that certain pesticides may modify the association between BMI and colon and lung cancer risk, should be further evaluated in other populations.
obesity; body mass index; pesticides; cancer; agriculture
The accuracy of the exposure assessment is a critical factor in epidemiological investigations of pesticide exposures and health in agricultural populations. However, few studies have been conducted to evaluate questionnaire-based exposure metrics. The Agricultural Health Study (AHS) is a prospective cohort study of pesticide applicators who provided detailed questionnaire information on their use of specific pesticides. A field study was performed for a subset of the applicators enrolled in the AHS to assess a pesticide exposure algorithm through comparison of algorithm intensity scores with measured exposures. Pre- and post-application urinary biomarker measurements were made for 2,4-D (n = 69) and chlorpyrifos (n = 17) applicators. Dermal patch, hand wipe, and personal air samples were also collected. Intensity scores were calculated using information from technician observations and an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Correlations between observer and questionnaire intensity scores were high (Spearman r = 0.92 and 0.84 for 2,4-D and chlorpyrifos, respectively). Intensity scores from questionnaires for individual applications were significantly correlated with post-application urinary concentrations for both 2,4-D (r = 0.42, p < 0.001) and chlorpyrifos (r = 0.53, p = 0.035) applicators. Significant correlations were also found between intensity scores and estimated hand loading, estimated body loading, and air concentrations for 2,4-D applicators (r-values 0.28–0.50, p-values<0.025). Across all chlorpyrifos applicators, body loading measurements were significantly correlated with intensity scores from questionnaires (r=0.50, p=0.039) but not from observations (r=0.18, p=0.482). Dermal measures for in-furrow granular applications of chlorpyrifos (n = 12) were very low and not correlated with intensity scores. A linear regression model indicated that the algorithm factors for individual applications explained 24% of the variability in post-application urinary 2,4-D concentration, which increased to 60% when the pre-application urine concentration was included. The results of the measurements support the use of the algorithm for estimating questionnaire-based exposure intensities in the AHS for liquid pesticide products. Refinement of the algorithm may be possible using the results from this and other measurement studies.
2,4-D; chlorpyrifos; exposure measurement; occupational exposure; Agricultural Health Study
AGRICOH is a recently formed consortium of agricultural cohort studies involving 22 cohorts from nine countries in five continents: South Africa (1), Canada (3), Costa Rica (2), USA (6), Republic of Korea (1), New Zealand (2), Denmark (1), France (3) and Norway (3). The aim of AGRICOH, initiated by the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) and coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), is to promote and sustain collaboration and pooling of data to investigate the association between a wide range of agricultural exposures and a wide range of health outcomes, with a particular focus on associations that cannot easily be addressed in individual studies because of rare exposures (e.g., use of infrequently applied chemicals) or relatively rare outcomes (e.g., certain types of cancer, neurologic and auto-immune diseases). To facilitate future projects the need for data harmonization of selected variables is required and is underway. Altogether, AGRICOH provides excellent opportunities for studying cancer, respiratory, neurologic, and auto-immune diseases as well as reproductive and allergic disorders, injuries and overall mortality in association with a wide array of exposures, prominent among these the application of pesticides.
agriculture; cohort studies; consortium, pesticides; occupational exposures