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Occupational exposure to pesticides may increase risk of prostate cancer (LONDON)

People whose jobs regularly expose them to large amounts of pesticides are likely to be at increased risk of developing prostate cancer . This is the …

Result of a meta-analysis in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2003; 60: 634-642).

Genevieve van Maele-Fabry et al. from the Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, analysed the results of 22 epidemiological studies published between 1995 and 2001 and compared them with the results of clinical studies. In total, about 43 studies on this topic had been published during the study period.

Based on the risk data in the individual studies, the authors determined an overall risk of 13 percent for the development of prostate cancer as a result of occupational exposure to pesticides. Individuals who worked with sprayers were shown to have a higher risk of prostate cancer than farmers or other occupational groups who routinely come into contact with pesticides.

The authors noted that the estimated risk values in European studies tended to be lower than the values in North American studies. However, van Maele-Fabry et al. point out that there are large differences in factors such as duration, design, geographical location and quality of the studies.

In addition, most of the studies did not take into account other influencing factors, such as genetic predisposition. According to the scientists, the causes of prostate cancer are still not clearly understood. However, despite reservations, the results of their meta-analysis are comparable to those of previous meta-analyses and make it clear that there is a need to reduce occupational exposure to pesticides and other chemicals.