AOHC: Research Examines Mortality Among Farm Workers

A very special session held Tuesday, May 6, at the American Occupational Health Conference (AOHC) in Atlanta examined current research in occupational and environmental medicine and offered some surprising results.

Lora Fleming, M.D., Ph.D., and a group of researchers from the University of Miami School of Medicine, discussed predictors of acute and chronic disability for farmers and pesticide applicators compared to all other U.S. workers.

"Farmers were, on average, significantly older than the rest of the U.S. workforce," noted Fleming. After adjusting for age, gender, race and ethnicity and education, she said farmers and pesticide applicators were more likely to be male, White or Hispanic and less educated than the "typical" U.S. worker.

Risk of accidental death, as well as cancers of the nervous and lymphatic/hematopoietic systems, was significantly elevated in both male and female pesticide-exposed workers, she said. However, pesticide workers were not at increased risk for breast, prostate and testicular cancers.

Surprisingly, the results of the study "indicate that at any point in time, compared to other U.S. workers, farmers are in general healthier, whereas… pesticide applicators have similar or poorer health," said Fleming.

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