Pancreatic cancer mortality and organochlorine pesticide exposure in California, 1989-1996

Am J Ind Med. 2003 Mar;43(3):306-13. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10188.


Background: Occupational studies have suggested a possible link between organochlorine pesticides and the occurrence of pancreatic cancers. California maintains a death file and a pesticide reporting system that allows examination of this relationship for residents of high use areas.

Methods: We employed a mortality odds ratio design to compare deaths from pancreatic cancer (1989-1996) with a random sample of non-cancer deaths. Using pesticide data for three agricultural counties, we classified 102 ZIP codes in quartiles of pesticide usage for 1972-1989. Using logistic regression we estimated the effect of pesticide applications by ZIP code controlling for possible confounders.

Results: Among long-term residents, pancreatic cancer mortality was elevated for those living in ZIP codes with the highest use of four pesticides: 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-d), captafol, pentachloronitrobenzene (PCNB), and dieldrin. No dose-response relationship was observed.

Conclusions: Our study suggests increased pancreatic cancer mortality among long-term residents in areas of high application rates of 1,3-d (an EPA-classified probable human carcinogen), captafol, pentacholoronitrobenzene (PCNB), and dieldrin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • California / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Educational Status
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated*
  • Insecticides / adverse effects*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sex Factors


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Insecticides