Assessing the Impact of Occupational Pesticide Exposure on Risk Estimates for Prostate Cancer

A study investigated how the applied exposure assessment method influenced risk estimates for some diseases, including prostate cancer. The findings were reported in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

“Assessment of occupational pesticide exposure in epidemiological studies of chronic diseases is challenging. Biomonitoring of current pesticide levels might not correlate with past exposure relevant to disease etiology, and indirect methods often rely on workers’ imperfect recall of exposures, or job titles,” the investigators wrote.

These three meta-analyses investigated the influence of exposure assessment method type on the summary risk ratio (sRR) of prostate cancer (PC) (25 articles), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) (29 articles) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) (32 articles). Exposure assessment method types defined as were group-level assessments (e.g., job titles), self-reported exposures, expert-level assessments (e.g., job-exposure matrices) and biomonitoring (e.g., blood, urine).

According to the results, exposure assessment method types were not correlated with statistically significant different sRRs across any of the health outcomes. The researchers observed heterogeneity in results varied from high in cancer studies to moderate and low in PD studies. Overall, they reported that case-control designs showed significantly higher sRR estimates than prospective cohort designs. For PC, specifically, studies from North America showed significantly higher sRR estimates than studies from Europe. They concluded that “exposure assessment method applied in studies of occupational exposure to pesticides appears not to have a significant effect on risk estimates for PC, NHL, and PD.”