Objective: To summarize the literature on the risk of prostate cancer among farmers and farm workers, to evaluate the magnitude of the risk and to determine the presence of risk factors peculiar to agricultural work.
Methods: Recent literature was searched and reviewed, selecting only case-control studies in which both positive and negative odds ratios were presented for several occupations, while only cohort studies and death-certificate studies were selected which presented risk estimates for several cancer sites, elevated as well as decreased.
Results: In most of the studies reviewed, a slight excess risk of prostate cancer incidence or mortality was observed among farmers. It is as yet unclear whether this excess risk is caused by particular occupational exposures or by risk factors in their personal lifestyle (e.g. dietary habits). Evidence was found for a relationship between the use of pesticides and of other agricultural chemicals and the risk of prostate cancer.
Conclusion: Farmers probably have a slightly elevated risk of contracting prostate cancer. However, the actual risk factors are still a matter of conjecture.