The Agricultural Health Study (www.aghealth.org) is a cohort of 89,658 pesticide applicators and their spouses from Iowa and North Carolina assembled between 1993 and 1997 to evaluate risk factors for disease in rural farm populations. This prospective study is just now reaching sufficient maturity for analysis of many disease endpoints. Nonetheless, several analyses have already provided interesting and important leads regarding disease patterns in agricultural populations and etiologic clues for the general population. Compared to the mortality experience of the general population in the two states (adjusted for race, gender, age and calendar time), the cohort experienced a very low mortality rate overall and for many specific causes and a low rate of overall cancer incidence. A few cancers, however, appear elevated, including multiple myeloma and cancers of the lip, gallbladder, ovary, prostate, and thyroid, but numbers are small for many cancers. A study of prostate cancer found associations with exposure to several pesticides, particularly among individuals with a family history of prostate cancer. Links to pesticides and other agricultural factors have been found for injuries, retinal degeneration, and respiratory wheeze. Methodological studies have determined that information collected by interview is unbiased and reliable. A third round of interviews scheduled to begin in 2005 will collect additional information on agricultural exposures and health outcomes. The study can provide data to address many health issues in the agricultural community. The study investigators welcome collaboration with interested scientists.
Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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