Agricultural herbicide use and risk of lymphoma and soft-tissue sarcoma

JAMA. 1986 Sep 5;256(9):1141-7.


A population-based case-control study of soft-tissue sarcoma (STS), Hodgkin's disease (HD), and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in Kansas found farm herbicide use to be associated with NHL (odds ratio [OR], 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.9, 2.6). Relative risk of NHL increased significantly with number of days of herbicide exposure per year and latency. Men exposed to herbicides more than 20 days per year had a sixfold increased risk of NHL (OR, 6.0; 95% CI, 1.9, 19.5) relative to nonfarmers. Frequent users who mixed or applied the herbicides themselves had an OR of 8.0 (95% CI, 2.3, 27.9) for NHL. Excesses were associated with use of phenoxyacetic acid herbicides, specifically 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Neither STS nor HD was associated with pesticide exposure. This study confirms the reports from Sweden and several US states that NHL is associated with farm herbicide use, especially phenoxyacetic acids. It does not confirm the case-control studies or the cohort studies of pesticide manufacturers and Vietnam veterans linking herbicides to STS or HD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology
  • Herbicides / adverse effects*
  • Hodgkin Disease / chemically induced*
  • Hodgkin Disease / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / adverse effects
  • Kansas
  • Lymphoma / chemically induced*
  • Lymphoma / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Sarcoma / chemically induced*
  • Sarcoma / epidemiology
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Time Factors


  • Herbicides
  • Insecticides