Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Short report
Occupational exposure to N-nitrosamines and pesticides and risk of pancreatic cancer
  1. Lin Fritschi1,
  2. Geza Benke2,
  3. Harvey A Risch3,
  4. Annaka Schulte4,
  5. Penelope M Webb4,
  6. David C Whiteman4,
  7. Jonathan Fawcett5,
  8. Rachel E Neale4
  1. 1School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, The Alfred Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  4. 4Department of Population Health, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  5. 5Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Corresponding author Professor Lin Fritschi, School of Public Health, Curtin University, Kent St, Bentley, Perth, WA 6102, Australia; Lin.fritschi{at}


Objectives Animal evidence shows that N-nitrosamines and similar xenobiotic compounds are pancreatic carcinogens. We aimed to determine whether occupational exposure to N-nitrosamines or to pesticides increases risk of pancreatic cancer development.

Methods Participants (504 cases, 643 controls) in a population-based case–control study (The Queensland Pancreatic Cancer Study) provided data on demographic, medical and lifestyle factors and lifetime job histories. Specific questions were asked regarding work in rubber and leather industries, metalworking jobs and occupational or direct use of pesticides on animals or crops. An occupational hygienist reviewed this information (blind to case status) to assess likelihood of exposure to N-nitrosamines and pesticides, and estimated level and frequency of such exposures.

Results No associations were found for risk of pancreatic cancer and occupational exposure to N-nitrosamines (OR=0.85, 95% CI 0.51 to 1.42) and no associations were seen with level or frequency of exposure. No associations were observed for ever exposure to pesticides in general (OR=0.90, 95% CI 0.61 to 1.33) or to any of the pesticide subgroups. Stratification by history of cigarette smoking did not change these results.

Conclusions This comprehensive analysis of a large case–control study does not support an association between occupational exposure to N-nitrosamines or pesticide use and risk of pancreatic cancer.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.