Pesticides Linked to Brain Cancer

From: Robina Suwol
Date: 7 June 2007
Time: 16:11:20
Remote Name:


 Pesticides Linked to Brain Cancer June 6, 2007 (Insidermedicine)

Farmers and people who use pesticides on houseplants have a greater risk of developing brain cancer, according to research published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Brain cancer is caused by the growth of abnormal cells in the brain and in most cases it’s a disabling and lethal disease. Symptoms can include frequent headaches, vomiting, loss of appetite, changes in the ability to think and learn, and seizures. There are more than 20,000 new cases of brain cancer diagnosed in the US each year and close to 13,000 deaths, and brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in people under the age of 35. 

To assess the link between brain cancer and pesticides, scientists reviewed more than 200 brain cancer cases and compared them to over 400 healthy controls. Their history of occupational and environmental exposure to pesticides was collected as well as lifestyle information. The study is among the largest to specifically examine the link between occupational and environmental exposure to pesticides and brain cancer.

It was found that all agricultural workers exposed to pesticides have a slightly greater risk of developing a brain tumour, but those exposed to the highest levels have more than a twofold greater risk. This group is particularly likely to develop gliomas, a type of central nervous system tumour that affects more men than women. It is suggested that differences in occupational exposure between men and woman may account for the disparity in prevalence.

Similarly, people who use pesticides on household plants were found to be at greater than twofold increased risk of developing brain cancer.

More research needs to be done to identify the types of agents that confer the greatest risk of cancer; such as fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals, and to determine which pesticides are associated with the greatest risk.

Last changed: December 05, 2007