Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 823-830

First online:

Lymphohematopoietic Cancers in the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), 1988–2001

  • Paul K. MillsAffiliated withCancer Registry of Central California/Public Health InstituteFresno Medical Education Program, University of California Email author 
  • , Richard YangAffiliated withCancer Registry of Central California/Public Health Institute
  • , Deborah RiordanAffiliated withCancer Registry of Central California/Public Health Institute

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Agricultural risk factors for lymphohematopoeitic cancers (LHC) in Hispanic farm workers in California were examined in a nested case–control study embedded in a cohort of 139,000 ever members of a farm worker labor union in California.


Crop and pesticide exposures were estimated by linking county/month and crop specific job history information from union records with California Department of Pesticide Regulation pesticide use reports during the 20-year period prior to cancer diagnosis.


A total of 131 LHC diagnosed in California between 1988 and 2001 were included in the analysis. Analyses were conducted by gender and subtype of non-Hodgkins lymphoma (nodal, extra nodal) and by leukemia histology (lymphocytic, granulocytic). Odds ratios were calculated by stratification and by unconditional logistic regression. Risk for all LHC was elevated in workers cultivating vegetables (OR = 1.67, 95% CI = 1.12–2.48). Risk of leukemia was associated with exposure to the pesticides mancozeb (OR = 2.35, 95% CI = 1.12–4.95) and toxaphene (OR = 2.20, 95% CI = 1.04–4.65) while NHL risk was increased in association with 2,4-D (OR = 3.80, 95% CI=1.85–7.81). Risk of leukemia was particularly elevated among female workers and for granulocytic versus lymphocytic leukemia for several chemicals. No associations were noted for multiple myeloma.


California farm workers employed where mancozeb and toxaphene were used had an increased risk of leukemia compared to farm workers employed elsewhere. Employment in farms using 2,4-D was associated with an increased risk of NHL.


epidemiology farm workers leukemia lymphoma pesticides