Medical Oncology and Tumor Pharmacotherapy

, Volume 4, Issue 3–4, pp 207–217 | Cite as

Pesticides and cancer risks in agriculture

  • Olav Axelson
Chemical Cancer Risks


The work environment in agriculture is complex, with many potentially hazardous exposures, but the overall mortality from cancer and other causes is rather low among farmers. However, several studies have consistently indicated an excess of certain cancer forms. Lymphomas, leukemias, multiple myeloma and also malignancies of connective tissue attract especial interest, as being possibly associated with the use of pesticides. Phenoxy acid herbicides may play an etiological role, especially for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, whereas the finding are more ambiguous for Hodgkin's disease and soft-tissue sarcoma, perhaps indicating an interaction wity co-factors. The issue has been controversial for many years, however, and one of its aspects involves the use of phenoxy acids in the Vietnam war. Furthermore, DDT has been associated with lung cancer in mixed exposure situations, and with chronic lymphatic leukemia. Arsenical pesticides may have caused skin cancer in vine-growers. Further studies, especially of specific user groups and producers, may avoid the complex exposure situation in agriculture.

Key words

DDT Phenoxy acids Leukemia Lymphoma Sarcoma 


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Copyright information

© Pergamon Press Ltd. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olav Axelson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Occupational MedicineUniversity HospitalLinköpingSweden

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