An excess incidence of brain cancer in male farmers has been noted in several studies, but few studies have focused on women. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Upper Midwest Health Study evaluated effects of rural exposures for 341 female glioma cases and 528 controls, all adult (18-80) non-metropolitan residents of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. On average, controls lived longer on farms than did cases. After adjusting for age, age group, education, and farm residence, no association with glioma was observed for exposure to arsenicals, benzoic acids, carbamates, chloroacetanilides, dinitroanilines, inorganics, organochlorines, organophosphates, phenoxys, triazines, urea-based, or estrogenic pesticides. An increased risk of glioma was observed for carbamate herbicides, but was not statistically significant (odds ratio 3.0, 95% confidence interval 0.9-9.5). No association was observed between glioma and exposure to twelve widely used specific pesticides, after adjustment for age, age group, education, and any other pesticide exposure. These results were not affected after exclusion of proxy respondents (43% of cases, 2% of controls). Women were less likely than men to have applied pesticides, but more likely to have laundered pesticide-contaminated clothes. Storing pesticides in the house was associated with a non-statistically-significant increased risk. Results show that exposure to pesticides was not associated with an increased risk of intracranial gliomas in women. Other farm-related factors could be etiological factors, and will be discussed in future reports.
Tania Carreon, Ph.D., Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Mailstop R-16, Cincinnati, OH 45226