Women in Agricultural Work at Increased Risk for Skin and Blood Cancers from Pesticide Exposure

October 21, 2021 | A study published in Environment International finds higher rates of various cancers among agricultural workers, with multiple myeloma (blood cancer) and melanoma (skin cancer) disproportionately affecting female farmers. Although research studies link cancer risk to genetic and external factors (e.g., cigarette smoke), there is increasing evidence that pesticide exposure augments the risk of developing common cancers like melanoma and less common cancers like multiple myeloma. The authors write, “The results suggest that agricultural workers have a lower risk of various cancers and an elevated risk of prostate cancer, multiple myeloma (female), and melanoma of skin (female) compared to the general population. Those differences and the between-cohort variations may be due to underlying differences in risk factors and warrant further investigation of agricultural exposures.” [Togawa, Kayo et al. Cancer incidence in agricultural workers: Findings from an international consortium of agricultural cohort studies (AGRICOH). Environment International. 157: 106825, 2021.]