Chronic disease risk in central New York dairy farmers: results from a large health survey 1989-1999

Am J Ind Med. 2005 Jan;47(1):20-6. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20110.


Background: The agricultural workplace presents a variety of health and safety hazards; it is unknown whether farm work may be a risk factor for certain chronic diseases.

Methods: The health survey data from a large rural population in central New York were used from two studies (1989, 1999) to assess both 1999 prevalence and 10-year incidence of self-reported diabetes, heart disease, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension among farm (predominantly dairy) and non-farm residents. The 1999 asthma prevalence was also assessed.

Results: Multiple logistic regression models for 1999 prevalence found statistically significant protective effects of farming for hypertension (OR=0.83, P=0.0105) and hypercholesterolemia (OR=0.853, P=0.0522). Non-significant results were seen for heart disease (OR=0.67, P=0.128) and diabetes (OR=0.856, P=0.1358). The model for 1999 asthma prevalence showed a significantly elevated risk for farming (OR=1.542, P=0.0004). Logistic models created for the 10-year incidence of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, and heart disease did not show a significant effect for farming.

Conclusions: The protective effect of farming observed for the 1999 prevalence of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia was not seen for the 10-year incidence of these diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Dairying*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Health Surveys
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / epidemiology*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Logistic Models
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence