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Agricultural Exposures and Cancer
Aaron Blair and Shelia Hoar Zahm
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 103, Supplement 8 (Nov., 1995), pp. 205-208
Published by: The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3432311
Page Count: 4
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The purpose of this report is to review the literature on cancer among persons employed in agriculture, to characterize the value of this line of research, and to recommend future directions. Farmers, despite a generally favorable mortality, appear to experience elevated rates for several cancers, including leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, soft-tissue sarcoma, and cancers of the skin, lip, stomach, brain, and prostate. The rates for several of these tumors (i.e., non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, skin, brain, and prostate) appear to be increasing in the general population. No set of established etiologic factors explains all the cancer excesses observed among farmers, although several are associated with naturally occurring or medically induced immunodeficiencies. This suggests that there may be factors in the agricultural environment that introduce immune system deficiencies. Farmers are exposed to a variety of substances that could operate through this mechanism, including pesticides, engine exhausts, solvents, dusts, and zoonotic microbes. Studies to further characterize the cancer risk among farmers, their dependents, and farm laborers, and to identify the exposures that may be involved would not only be useful in providing a safe work environment in agriculture but may furnish considerable insight into the causes for a number of tumors that are rising in incidence in the general population.
Environmental Health Perspectives © 1995 The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences