Cancer incidence among pesticide applicators exposed to cyanazine in the agricultural health study

Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Aug;114(8):1248-52. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8997.


Background: Cyanazine is a common pesticide used frequently in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s. Animal and human studies have suggested that triazines may be carcinogenic, but results have been mixed. We evaluated cancer incidence in cyanazine-exposed pesticide applicators among the 57,311 licensed pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS).

Methods: We obtained detailed pesticide exposure information from a self-administered questionnaire completed at enrollment (1993-1997). Cancer incidence was followed through January 2002. Over half of cyanazine-exposed applicators had >or=6 years of exposure at enrollment, and approximately 85% had begun using cyanazine before the 1990s. We used adjusted Poisson regression to calculate rate ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of multiple cancer sites among cyanazine-exposed applicators. We calculated ptrend values, and all statistical tests were two-sided. Two exposure metrics were used: tertiles of lifetime days of exposure (LD) and intensity-weighted LD.

Results: A total of 20,824 cancer-free AHS applicators reported ever using cyanazine at enrollment. Cancer incidence comparisons between applicators with the lowest cyanazine exposure and those with the highest exposure yielded the following for the LD metric: all cancers, RR=0.99 (95% CI, 0.80-1.24); prostate cancer, RR=1.23 (95% CI, 0.87-1.70); all lymphohematopoietic cancers, RR=0.92 (95% CI, 0.50-1.72); non-Hodgkin lymphoma, RR=1.25 (95% CI, 0.47-3.35); lung cancer, RR=0.52 (95% CI, 0.22-1.25).

Conclusions: We did not find any clear, consistent associations between cyanazine exposure and any cancer analyzed. The number of sites was small for certain cancers, limiting any conclusion with regard to ovarian, breast, and some other cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Herbicides / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Triazines / adverse effects*


  • Herbicides
  • Triazines
  • cyanazine