Data from an in-person interview study of 622 white men with newly diagnosed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and 1245 population-based controls in Iowa and Minnesota were used to measure the risk associated with farming occupation and specific agricultural exposures. Men who ever farmed were at slightly elevated risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (odds ratio = 1.2, 95% confidence interval = 1.0–1.5) that was not linked to specific crops or particular animals. Elevated risks were found, with odds ratio generally 1.5-fold or greater, for personal handling, mixing, or application of several pesticide groups and for individual insecticides, including carbaryl, chlordane, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, diazinon, dichlorvos, lindane, malathion, nicotine, and toxaphene. Associations were generally stronger for first use prior to 1965 than more recently, and when protective clothing or equipment was not used. Small risks were associated with the use of the phenoxyacetic acid herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, but the risks did not increase with latency or failure to use protective equipment. Exposure to numerous pesticides poses problems of interpreting risk associated with a particular chemical, and multiple comparisons increase the chances of false-positive findings. In contrast, nondifferential exposure misclassification due to inaccurate recall can bias risk estimates toward the null and mask positive associations. In the face of these methodological and statistical issues, the consistency of several findings, both within this study and with observations of others, suggests an important role for several insecticides in the etiology of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among farmers.
↵1 To whom requests for reprints should be addressed, at Environmental Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, 443 Executive Plaza North, Bethesda, MD 20892.
- Received November 6, 1991.
- Accepted February 19, 1992.
- ©1992 American Association for Cancer Research.