Author(s): Bohnen NI, Kurland LT
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Abstract We examined the relationship between exposure to pesticides and the subsequent development of brain tumors in adults through a critical review of the literature. The results of retrospective case-control studies are conflicting, in part because of biases in the selection of patients and controls, poor definition and ascertainment of the nature and extent of the exposure to pesticides, and a non-uniform approach to the collection of antecedent information. A number of the studies evaluated farmers as a group exposed to pesticides; however, inference about cancer incidence in farmers may reflect not only their possible exposure to pesticides, but also exposure to petrochemical products, exhaust fumes, mineral and organic dusts, and biological exposure to animals and microbes. The great majority of the cohort studies of chemical workers employed in the manufacture of pesticides did not indicate an excess of brain cancer mortality. There have been few cohort studies of pesticide applicators and these revealed elevated but non-significant relative risks for excess mortality due to brain cancer. Existing data are insufficient to conclude that exposure to pesticides is a clear risk factor for brain tumors. Given the conflicting results reported for farmers and pesticide applicators and their contrast to chemical workers, it seems more plausible that exposure to multiple agents and/or other factors, such as genetic predisposition, are most relevant with respect to brain tumor pathogenesis.
This article was published in J Neurol Sci
and referenced in Journal of Brain Tumors & Neurooncology