Objectives Prostate cancer is one of the most frequent cancers worldwide. Its aetiology is largely unknown with farming being suspected. Our aim was to identify occupational risk factors for prostate cancer in farmers in the French prospective cohort study AGRICAN.
Method During the period from enrollment (2005–2007) to 31 December 2009, 1664 incident prostate cancer cases were identified in the cohort (n = 92669) by linkage with cancer registries. Data on occupational history and agricultural exposures during lifetime on 13 types of crops and 5 types of animals were collected by the enrollment questionnaire. Hazard ratios (HR) were estimated using Cox regression analysis with attained age as underlying time scale.
Results Elevated risks were found for six agricultural activities: cattle, hogs, horses, grassland, wheat/barley and tobacco (HR=1.07 to 1.16; p = 0.07 to 0.23). Prostate cancer risk was related to duration of work in wheat/barley and tobacco productions, number of cattle and hogs, and grassland area. We also observed an increased risk for fruit growing, with both duration and area. Increased prostate cancer risk was associated with applying pesticides on wheat/barley (HR=1.40, p = 0.06) with a duration relationship, and with making hay (HR=1.16, p = 0.03).
Conclusions Our analysis suggests that the risk of prostate cancer is increased in some farming activities, mainly in crops. This work will be completed by a multivariate analysis, with variables positively associated with the outcome in the previous analysis. The possible association between use of some chemical classes of pesticides and prostate cancer occurrence will be analysed through a crop-exposure matrix (PESTIMAT).