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Keywords:

  • leukemia;
  • lymphoma;
  • proportional mortality;
  • occupation;
  • eye cancer;
  • chemicals;
  • prostate cancer;
  • stomach cancer

Abstract

Computerized mortality listings for Wisconsin for 1968-1976 were used in proportional mortality ratio (PMR) and proportional cancer mortality ratio (PCMR) analyses to evaluate mortality patterns among Wisconsin farmers. Examination of PCMR trends by per capita county level of agricultural production was limited to the youngest birth cohort (1905-1958) and cancer sites associated with farming exposures in either the present or previous analyses. Among all Wisconsin farmers, significantly decreased PMRs were seen for tobacco- and alcohol-related causes of death, while excesses occurred for accidential causes, asthma, and cancer of the stomach, prostate, eye, and lymphatic and hematopoietic systems. Elevated PCMR's for leukemia and all lymphopoietic cancer and cancers of the stomach, rectum, eye occurred in farmers born 1905-1958, while deficits were observed for cancer of the pancreas and the category, “all other cancers.” Increases in PCMR's with level of various agricultural activities were largely associated with cancers of other lymphatic tissue (2/3 of which were multiple myeloma) and the rectum. Certain agricultural exposures were also positively associated with deaths due to cancers of the prostate, brain, lymphosarcoma and reticulosarcoma, and all lymphopoietic cancers. No positive PCMR gradients were observed for leukemia and malignancies of the stomach and eye. Modern chemical practices in farming may account for some of the patterns noted.