Pesticide Exposure and Head and Neck Cancers: A Case-Control Study in an Agricultural Region

Document Type : Original


1 Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran.

2 Plant Protection Research Department, Yazd Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Center, AREEO, Yazd, Iran.

3 Department of Plant Protection, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran.

4 Neurology Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran.


Causes of head and neck cancers (HNCs) are multifactorial, and few studies have investigated the association between chemical exposure and HNCs. The objective of this study was to investigate associations between HNCs, agricultural occupations, and pesticide exposure. The potential for the accumulation of pesticides in the adipose tissue of patients was also investigated.
Materials and Methods:
A structured questionnaire was used to collect information on demographics, occupation, and exposure to pesticides in a hospital-based case-control study. Pesticide residue in the adipose tissue of the neck in both cases and controls was also monitored via gas chromatography–mass spectroscopy.
Thirty-one HNC cases were included in this study as well as 32 gender-, age-, and smoking-matched controls. An agricultural occupation was associated with HNC (odds ratio [OR], 3.26; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.13–9.43) after controlling for age, sex, and smoking. Pesticide exposure was associated with total HNC cases (OR, 7.45; 95% CI, 1.78–3.07) and larynx cancer (OR, 9.33; 95% CI, 1.65–52.68). A dose-response pattern was observed for HNC cases (P=0.06) and larynx cancer (P=0.01). In tracing the pesticide residue, five chlorinated pesticides, namely dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), dichlorodipheny-ldichloroethane (DDD), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), dieldrin, and lindane, were identified in the adipose tissue. Chlorinated pesticide detection was significantly associated with HNC (OR, 3.91; 95% CI 0.9–0.16.9).
HNCs were found to be associated with pesticide exposure after controlling for confounders. A high education level was identified as a modifying factor decreasing the risk of HNCs. Further studies with larger number of subjects are recommended to assess these relationships in greater detail.


Main Subjects

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