Agricultural exposures and chronic bronchitis: findings from the AGRICAN (AGRIculture and CANcer) cohort

Ann Epidemiol. 2013 Sep;23(9):539-45. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2013.06.005. Epub 2013 Jul 22.


Purpose: Livestock farming has been recognized as a risk factor for chronic bronchitis (CB). The role of crop farming, however, has been less studied. We sought to assess the role of a large range of farming activities on the risk of CB in the French agricultural cohort AGRICAN (AGRIculture and CANcer).

Methods: Data on respiratory health and farming activities were collected by questionnaire from 2005 to 2007. Associations between farming activities and self-reported doctor's diagnosis of CB were estimated by a logistic regression adjusted for confounders.

Results: CB was reported by 1207 farmers (8.4%). Two farming activities were associated with CB: cattle raising (odds ratio [OR] 1.24, 95% confidence interval 1.03-1.48), and potato production (OR 1.33, 95% confidence interval 1.13-1.57). Associations were more pronounced in small-scale cattle raising and in large-scale potato production, in particular among the longest exposed workers (≥20 years). Pesticide poisoning and exposure to pesticides in potato farmers were significantly associated with CB risk (OR 1.64 and OR 1.63, respectively).

Conclusions: This analysis suggests that other agricultural settings not previously reported, such as potato production, may be a risk factor for CB. The nature and circumstances of exposure to hazardous agents need to be further explored.

Keywords: Agriculture; Animals; Bronchitis; Chronic; Crops; Pesticides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology
  • Agriculture*
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Animals
  • Bronchitis, Chronic / chemically induced*
  • Bronchitis, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Cattle
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Pesticides