Central nervous system tumors and agricultural exposures in the prospective cohort AGRICAN

Int J Cancer. 2017 Nov 1;141(9):1771-1782. doi: 10.1002/ijc.30879. Epub 2017 Jul 24.


Studies in farmers suggest a possible role of pesticides in the occurrence of Central Nervous System (CNS) tumors but scientific evidence is still insufficient. Using data from the French prospective agricultural cohort AGRICAN (Agriculture & Cancer), we investigated the associations between exposure of farmers and pesticide users to various kinds of crops and animal farming and the incidence of CNS tumors, overall and by subtypes. Over the 2005-2007, 181,842 participants completed the enrollment questionnaire that collected a complete job calendar with lifetime history of farming types. Associations were estimated using proportional hazards models with age as underlying timescale. During a 5.2 years average follow-up, 273 incident cases of CNS tumors occurred, including 126 gliomas and 87 meningiomas. Analyses showed several increased risks of CNS tumors in farmers, especially in pesticide users (hazard ratio = 1.96; 95% confidence interval: 1.11-3.47). Associations varied with tumor subtypes and kinds of crop and animal farming. The main increases in risk were observed for meningiomas in pig farmers and in farmers growing sunflowers, beets and potatoes and for gliomas in farmers growing grasslands. In most cases, more pronounced risk excesses were observed among pesticide applicators. Even if we cannot completely rule out the contribution of other factors, pesticide exposures could be of primary concern to explain these findings.

Keywords: brain; cohort studies; occupational exposure; pesticides; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / chemically induced
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / pathology
  • Agriculture
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / pathology
  • Farmers
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Pesticides