We investigated the relationship between agricultural pesticides and colorectal cancer incidence in the Agricultural Health Study. A total of 56,813 pesticide applicators with no prior history of colorectal cancer were included in this analysis. Detailed pesticide exposure and other information were obtained from self-administered questionnaires completed at the time of enrollment (1993-1997). Cancer incidence was determined through population-based cancer registries from enrollment through December 31, 2002. A total of 305 incident colorectal cancers (212 colon, 93 rectum) were diagnosed during the study period, 1993-2002. Although most of the 50 pesticides studied were not associated with colorectal cancer risk, chlorpyrifos use showed significant exposure response trend (p for trend = 0.008) for rectal cancer, rising to a 2.7-fold (95% confidence interval: 1.2-6.4) increased risk in the highest exposure category. Aldicarb was associated with a significantly increased risk of colon cancer (p for trend = 0.001), based on a small number of exposed cases, with the highest exposure category resulting in a 4.1-fold increased risk (95% confidence interval: 1.3-12.8). In contrast, dichlorophenoxyacetic acid showed a significant inverse association with colon cancer but the association was not monotonic. Our findings should be interpreted cautiously since the literature suggesting that pesticides are related to colorectal cancer is limited. Nonetheless the possibility of an association between exposure to certain pesticides and incidence of colorectal cancer among pesticide applicators deserves further evaluation.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.