Childhood Cancer and Paternal Employment in Agriculture: The Role of Pesticides

Br J Cancer. 1998 Mar;77(5):825-9. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1998.134.


Previous studies have suggested that the offspring of men potentially exposed to pesticides at work may be at increased risk of kidney cancer (Wilms' tumour), brain tumours, Ewing's bone sarcoma and acute leukaemia. This paper examines the association between potential occupational exposure of fathers to pesticides and offspring's death from cancer in a large national database. Records for 167703 childhood deaths occurring during 1959-63, 1970-78 and 1979-90 in England and Wales have been analysed. Among the offspring of men with potential occupational exposure to pesticides there were 5270 deaths, of which 449 were due to cancer. Associations were assessed using proportional mortality ratios (PMRs), with adjustment for age, year of death and paternal social class. Of the childhood cancers previously linked with potential paternal occupational exposure to pesticides, the only statistically significant excess was for kidney cancer (PMR=1.59, 95% CI=1.18-2.15, based on 42 deaths). Although these results offer some support for the suggestion that paternal occupational exposure to pesticides may be related to the subsequent development of kidney cancer in offspring, other explanations cannot be excluded. In the light of the findings presented here and elsewhere, further, more detailed, research into the nature of this relationship is warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Agriculture*
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kidney Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Occupations
  • Paternal Exposure*
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Risk
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wales / epidemiology
  • Wilms Tumor / etiology*
  • Wilms Tumor / mortality


  • Pesticides