Pesticides & Mortality

ABSTRACT: Pesticides and mortality from hormone-dependent cancers

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are considered to be a possible cause of hormone-dependent cancers. In areas of high exposure to pesticides, people are concerned about the long lasting toxicity of pesticides, some of which are possibly hormonally active.

We collected for each Belgian municipality (n = 589) the latest mortality statistics from breast and prostate cancer (period 1985-1994) and the latest data on crops and pesticides (1998). In addition, data on possible confounders such as population density, degree of urbanization, industrial activity and the presence of an incinerator were collected as well.

The data were analysed with spatial statistics that takes into account the spatial nature of the data. There is a large variation in crops and pesticide exposure among the municipalities, the highest exposure being seen in the fruit production area.

Apart from use of defoliants and potato cultivation, no consistent correlation was detected between crops, pesticides and mortality from breast and prostate cancer.

Our data cannot support the hypothesis of a relationship between total and class-related pesticide use and breast and prostate cancer mortality.

However, the increased mortality due to breast cancer and to a lesser extent due to prostate cancer in traditional potato-growing areas needs attention and more research.

[01/14/2002; European Journal of Cancer Prevention]

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