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Brain Cancer Linked to Pesticide Exposure

by aseligmann — last modified Jul 04, 2010 12:00 AM

In the Bordeaux area of France, where vineyards dominate the agricultural landscape, researchers found that workers who were highly exposed to pesticides had an increased risk of brain cancer. Gliomas – one kind of brain tumor – were particularly associated with those who applied pesticides.

In the Bordeaux area of France, where vineyards dominate the agricultural landscape, researchers found that workers who were highly exposed to pesticides had an increased risk of brain cancer. Gliomas – one kind of brain tumor – were particularly associated with those who applied pesticides.

The same health survey also found a higher risk of brain cancer in people who said they usually "treated" their houseplants.

In the recently published study, researchers compared a group of people who had been diagnosed with brain cancer to a group of people of the same age, gender, and place of residence. They surveyed the study participants, asking about work history, use of pesticides in the home and garden, as well as other things that might be related to brain cancer.

Compared to people with no occupational pesticide exposure, farmers and vineyard workers with heavy exposure to pesticides were twice as likely to develop brain tumors. The heaviest users of pesticides had an increased risk for gliomas, one type of brain tumor. Since men are much more likely to have occupational exposure to pesticides, researchers suggested that this might help explain why gliomas are more common in men than in women.

Because of small numbers and lack of information about other influences, the authors felt that the link between houseplant treatments and brain cancer needed more research.

The researchers were not able to establish the specific pesticides that were used. However, fungicides have historically dominated pesticide use in vineyards in this region. Less was known about houseplant products. Researchers commented that current houseplant products contain both insecticides and fungicides and labels recommend frequent use. On top of this, houseplant treatments take place in a confined space.

The authors reported that their study results were consistent with two other health surveys conducted in areas where vineyards predominated. Another French study found higher mortality from brain cancer in areas planted with vines. An Italian study, also in wine country, showed that farmers were more at risk for gliomas.

 


NEWS STORY:

Heavy pesticide exposure linked to brain cancer
Reuters Health (New York). June 12, 2007
http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTON27410120070612?sp=true

STUDY SOURCE:

Brain tumours and exposure to pesticides: a case-control study in southwestern France.
Provost, D, et al. 2006.
Occupational and Environmental Medicine. (Published online prior to publication in print) Doi:10.1136/oem.2006.028100