Research from peer reviewed medical journals
that have found links between petroleum based chemicals
in the home and workplace with increases in adult and child cancer.

Richard W. Pressinger, M.Ed.
Wayne Sinclair, M.D., Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Please click topic below for more information:

Leukemia Remission Children:
Show Unique Immune System Differences

Remission is not a random hit or miss occurrence among leukemia patients.   Children who achieve remission were found to have higher levels of a type of "cancer eating" white blood cell called "Natural Killer Cells."   As synthetic chemicals have been found to lower immune system counts, common sense would suggest the critical importance of their avoidance.

New York Times article (9/29/97)
discusses recent child cancer increases

Scientists suggest modern chemicals primary suspect.

Introduction to child cancers and chemicals 
Summary of the research by Dr. Sinclair, M.D., 
Trends for brain cancer, facts, theories.

Large Increase in Brain Cancers
Found for People Living near Agriculture

This 1996 study provides strong evidence demonstrating current chemical farming methods are harming children living close to agriculture areas. 
Living Near Agriculture in California Increases Cancer Rates
Children living in homes adjacent to farming areas in McFarland, California had dramatically higher rates of cancer. On one street with 17 homes, five cases were diagnosed.
Brain Cancer Rates Higher in Rome Pesticide Applicators
A study of 2,310 pesticide applicators finds 2.5 times higher brain cancer rate
Vitamin K at birth linked to higher canc
A study of 4000 children found higher cancer rates of one type of cancer for infants given Vitamin K.  Why other studies did not find a link.
Brain Cancer Cluster
High rates surround petrochemical plant
High pesticide levels found in cancer patients
High pesticide levels found in fat tissue - link suggested
Neuroblastoma Information
Defining neuroblastoma - child cases - links to toxic chemicals in home
Diet Drinks Linked to Brain Cancer
Why scientists now believe Nutrasweet can contribute to brain cancer
Pesticide Applicators Dying of Brain Cancer
This is one of several studies showing high brain cancer rates for
licensed pesticide applicators
Brain tumor suspected from chlordane ingestion
Milk consumed during pregnancy contaminated with pesticide
suspected in child's tumor
Child Brain Cancers & Home Pesticide Use
Several home pesticide practices now being shown to increase child cancer rates
Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Linked to Modern Chemicals
Similar to leukemia, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (called NHL) is a cancer of increased numbers of white blood cells.  Strong evidence of NHL being a cancer resulting from chemical exposure is the fact that it is common only in industrialized countries and continues to increase over 2% per year.
Leukemia Remission only in Children with Higher Immune System Counts
Children with leukemia who went into remission were found to have significantly higher levels of natural killer cells than children who did not achieve remission.
Chemotherapy Conflict of Interest
Some cancers have been found not to benefit from administration of powerful chemotherapy agents (i.e. neuroblastoma).  If this is true - why is this treatment recommended?  This article from the New York Times discusses a serious financial conflict of interest facing oncologists and one that parents should be aware.
American Brain Tumor Association
Two parents who lost children to brain cancer have formed this large national network providing additional information on brain cancer

Child Cancer Survey Form
If your child has ever had cancer -
Help us pinpoint the environmental factors contributing to the rise in child cancers being observed throughout the U.S.  (and other industrialized countries). This form asks about 25 questions regarding lifestyle habits and living conditions that are suspected of contributing to the current increase in child cancer rates.

New York Times Article Discusses Rise in Child Cancers
SOURCE: NEW YORK TIMES, September 29, 1997

The September 29, 1997 New York Times article entitled "New Toxins Suspected as Cancer Rate Rises in Children"  discussed the rises being seen in child cancers over the past 20 years.  Specific quotes from the article include the following:

The rate of cancer among American children has been rising for decades. Although the reasons remain unclear, many experts suspect the increase may be partly the result of growing exposure to new chemicals in the environment.

And today, according to experts in the field, a newborn child faces a risk of about 1 in 600 of contracting cancer by age 10 (as of 1997).

  • Depending on which types of cancer are counted, and in what age groups among the nation's youth, the rate of increase has amounted to nearly 1 percent a year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Over a few decades, that has meant striking double-digit increases.
  • "I had not realized that the numbers were going up that way," said Karen Florini, a lawyer specializing in health issues at the Environmental Defense Fund. "I think it indicates a very disturbing trend that we had better get to the bottom of."
  • In the United States, cancer is diagnosed each year in an estimated 8,000 children below the age of 15. Cancer, although it kills fewer children than accidents do, it is the most common form of fatal childhood disease, accounting for about 10 percent of all deaths in childhood.
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia in boys and girls increased 27 percent between 1973 and 1990; since then, the rate in boys has declined, but it is still rising in girls. Brain cancer, or glioma, increased nearly 40 percent from 1973 to 1994. These two forms of cancer account for most of the disease in children.
  • Although the causes are not known and are probably many, some experts say toxins in the air, food, dust, soil and drinking water are prime suspects.
  • "I'm talking about new research on air pollutants, water pollutants and pesticides and their effects on children," said Carol Browner, the administrator of the EPA, "and new testing guidelines that routinely incorporate children's issues into EPA's risk assessments. I'm talking about moving beyond the chemical-by-chemical approaches of the past, and instead looking at a child's total cumulative risk from all exposures to toxic chemicals."
  • "The increases are too rapid to reflect genetic changes, and better diagnostic detection is not a likely explanation," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician who directs the division of environmental medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and who is the senior adviser to a new office of children's health at the EPA "The strong probability exists that environmental factors are playing a role."
  • In a study published in The American Journal of Public Health in February 1995, researchers suggested that "use of home pesticides may be associated with some types of childhood cancer."
  • Another study, published in The Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology in 1993, found associations between brain cancer in Missouri children and the use of pesticides in homes and yards.

Article by John H. Cushman, Jr.
New York Times
September 29, 1997


Introduction to Child Cancers, Chemicals and Pesticides
by Wayne Sinclair, M.D.
Board Certified Immunology
Vero Beach, Florida

The increase in childhood brain tumors and cancers in central east Florida has fortunately begun a more thorough investigation into the elevated brain cancer rates for our area.  This is long overdue. As a physician involved in the treatment and research of chemically induced illnesses and immune system toxicology (the study of how chemicals weaken the immune system), I am watching with interest the direction state investigators choose for research

I was disturbed by a local newspaper report of a comment made by one state investigator stating there is "no solid base of information to start from." To the contrary, there is currently excellent information available regarding suspected causes of related brain and blood cancers to help point us in the right direction. First, brain cancer has been showing a statistical increase over the past 60 years.  Researchers agree this is not just attributable to improved diagnosis. Each year more than 16,000 children and adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with a brain tumor.  The brain cancer figures below, from the American Cancer Society, show a disturbing trend in the number of cases being found per 100,000 population:

1940.... 1.95 per 100,000 population
1945.... 2.25 per 100,000
1950.... 2.90 per 100,000
1955.... 3.40 per 100,000
1960.... 3.70 per 100,000
1965.... 3.85 per 100,000
1970.... 4.10 per 100,000
1975.... 4.25 per 100,000

These figures showing a steady increase are true for all industrialized countries, and therefore, strongly implicate chemicals used in modern society. The fact that similar increases are occurring in children also point out this is not just an effect among aging Americans.

The next question we need to ask is which chemicals have been linked to brain cancers? Identified risk factors for brain cancers now include workers exposed to chemicals used in vinyl and rubber production, as well as an increased risk for workers employed at oil refineries or chemical manufacturing plants. Exposure to chemicals called nitrosamines, such as in cured meats and baby pacifiers, have also been implicated. Another study by the National Cancer Institute of 3,827 Florida Pest Control Operators found they had approximately twice the normal rate of brain cancer. Dr. Jack Leiss and David Savitz reported in the 1995 American Journal of Public Health of several studies showing pesticide exposure increases risks for childhood cancer. This included one study which found over twice the risk of brain cancer for children exposed to household insecticide extermination. Also reported was research by Dr. Ellen Davis of children with brain cancer under 10 years of age. This study found children with brain cancer had 6.2 times greater exposure to certain pesticides. A 1987 study by the University of Southern California found children exposed to home and lawn pesticide use had a 6.5 times increased risk of developing leukemia.

One of the strongest links of pesticides causing child cancer comes from research of children developing neuroblastoma after homes were treated with the pesticide chlordane. Researchers at the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Washington, D.C. reported of 5 cases of child neuroblastoma which were suspected to have occurred following chlordane treatment in or around the home. In one case, a 3 year 9 month old boy developed neuroblastoma after his family moved into a new home. Two years prior to the child's birth and also when he was two years old, the house was treated for termite infestation with chlordane. This report also discussed other cancers following chlordane treatment, which included 3 cases of aplastic anemia and 3 cases of leukemia. 25 other cases of cancers were reported elsewhere following chlordane home exposure. Many of these cases have moved into litigation.

Another study appearing in the 1981 journal CANCER, detected high levels of chlordane in 13 children with cancer. Researchers have stated that chlordane is a high risk chemical for brain cancer because it is a fat soluble compound and therefore has the potential to accumulate in the brain.

In regards to the so called safety tests conducted by chemical companies on pesticides, there is unfortunately no consideration given to the fact that the developing fetus has been reported to be 50 times more vulnerable to the harm of cancer causing chemicals. Also, the EPA does not take into account that a newborn child does not develop an efficient blood brain barrier until at least one year after birth. The blood brain barrier functions to keep toxic substances out of the brain and is believed to be the reason why epilepsy is shown to be an increased risk factor for developing brain cancer, as epileptic patients have been found to have lower blood brain barrier function.

One reason scientists are still extremely concerned about chlordane is the fact that although its use was stopped in the U.S. in April of 1988, chlordane is such an extremely persistent pesticide that it is still being detected in the air of homes today. In fact, tests of over 1000 homes performed by the U.S. Air Force and other agencies have found that approximately 75% of all homes built before 1988 show air contamination of the pesticide chlordane and that 6-7% are suspected of being over the maximum safe levels set by the National Academy of Sciences. This is such a large number of homes that toxicologist Dr. Samuel Epstein stated in a major medical journal that, "A national program for monitoring all homes treated is urgently needed to detect persistent contamination." Dr. David Cassidy, a chlordane research toxicologist in Texas, stated that the chlordane contamination problem is of such magnitude nationally that it is, "causing more harm than that caused by cigarette smoking." This is a very strong statement, but one that I certainly agree and brings to reality the magnitude of the problem.

Next we need to look at the research explaining how and why pesticides can be increasing the risk of child cancers. The explanations now show that pesticides are able to cause at least two biological changes in the body that enable cancer to grow.

  • First, pesticides have shown the ability to damage our DNA and genetic structure.
  • Second, pesticides are now being found to seriously weaken the human immune system. All of us develop cancer cells on a regular basis and it is our immune system which literally attacks and removes these cancer cells from our body. Therefore, having an immune system of high integrity is critical for preventing cancer in an individual.

Regarding children with neuroblastoma, there have been several studies done finding these children frequently have damage to the end of what is called "chromosome number 1." Scientists believe this part of the chromosome may be responsible for suppressing tumor growth or controlling cell growth. This genetic damage is not observed in other cells in these children.

Children with neuroblastoma are also being found to have defects in the part of their immune system which removes cancer from the body. For example, it was found by researchers at the University of Hamburg, Germany, that the blood of  healthy people contain higher numbers of antibodies called IgM, which seek out and destroy neuroblastoma cells. However, in a test of 11 people with neuroblastoma, none had properly working IgM antibodies. Other parts of the immune system which have been found to attack neuroblastoma and cancer cells are our cells called natural killer cells and macrophages. In studies of macrophages and cancer, conducted by the Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, it was found that exposure to chlordane literally paralyzed the ability of macrophages to search and destroy cancer cells. Certainly, this raises legitimate questions to the role of chlordane and other pesticides in and around homes of children with cancer. It is also of concern, that the two counties showing the highest rates of childhood cancer in Florida, St. Lucie and Indian River, are the same two counties with the highest proportion of the acreage devoted to growing citrus.

Although there are many chemicals a child can be exposed to which can damage his/her chromosome structure, we need to first investigate chemicals the child may have been exposed to on a repeated basis. Therefore, our researchers must look at pesticides which may have been applied inside or around the homes (such as chlordane) as well as pesticides that may have been used in agriculture in the nearby area.

If you have a child with any form of cancer please help us identify the main environmental causes of this illness (many of which are often overlooked) by completing the survey form before you leave our web site by clicking on the link - Child Cancer Survey Form.   Thank you - Wayne Sinclair, M.D.


Gliosarcoma Appears in Newborn - Pesticide Suspected
SOURCE: Neurosurgery, 21(4):557-559, 1987

A 7 week old boy, was admitted to the Arkansas Children's Hospital because of vomiting and a dramatic increase in head size. During the mother's pregnancy, she was stated as being extremely cautious about her nutrition and personal habits. She did not drink alcohol or smoke tobacco and had no known exposure to toxins in her work environment as a store clerk. She did, however, begin drinking more than one-half gallon of milk a day during pregnancy and continued drinking milk after delivery. It was later reported that the milk products she was drinking from her local dairy contained  unacceptably high levels of the pesticide heptachlor due to feeding of livestock with heptachlor contaminated feed. Heptachlor is a primary ingredient in the pesticide chlordane and has been used in agriculture and as a termite treatment for homes.

After entering the hospital at 7 weeks of age, her child was diagnosed with a gliosarcoma brain tumor. Family members have shown no incidence of brain tumors so hereditary factors were ruled out. Genetic mutations were detected in the cancer cells but not in other cells of the child's body. The researchers stated these chromosome abnormalities are detected in about 50% of all gliosarcomas and that heptachlor has tested positive for mutagenic properties. The researchers also quoted another study appearing in the journal CANCER, 48:774, 1981, which found high levels of chlordane and heptachlor in the blood of 13 childhood cancer cases.

William Chadduck, M.D., Susanne Gollin, Ph.D., Brian Gray, M.S., James Norris, Ph.D.
Departments of Neurogsurgery, Pathology, Cytogenetics and Internal Medicine University of Arkansas for Medical Science, Little Rock, Arkansas


Brain Cancer Cluster Surrounds Petrochemical Plant
SOURCE: Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 43:117-129, 1994

An unusually high number of bone, bladder and brain cancers were found to be occurring among children living in a residential area near 3 petrochemical plants between 1981 and 1990. The children ranged in age from 0-19 years. Upon reviewing 28 death certificates of these three types of cancers, 27 of the children lived within 2-3 kilometers (approx. 1.0-2.0 miles) from the chemical plants.   According to the pollution reports compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency of the Republic of China, nine serious air pollution events occurred in these chemical plant districts which released the chemicals vinyl chloride and acrylonitrile.  Other chemical sources from the plants included polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and well-water contamination with the chemical phenol, which was found far over government safety guidelines.

Drs. Bi Jen Pan, Yu Jue Hong, Gwo Chin Chang, Ming Tsan Wang
School of Public Health, Kaosiung Medical College, Taiwan, China


Cancer Patients found to have Higher Pesticide Residues
SOURCE: Environmental Research, 23:257-263, 1980 

Twenty-seven patients who died from cancer were found to have significantly higher levels of pesticides in their fat tissues in comparison to forty-four people who died from other illnesses.

Researchers at the School of Medicine, Odense University, Denmark, surveyed a total of 71 people who died either from cancer or from another illness.  Samples of fat tissue were removed from the abdomen of each deceased individual.  Investigators then analyzed the fat tissue to determine the levels of chlorinated chemicals DDE and PCB's. DDE is the break-down product of the pesticide DDT which is still used today on foreign grown produce and in orange and grapefruit production as a by-product in the pesticide "KELTHANE."  PCB's are still found in older fluorescent light fixtures and as a coolant in common power transformers seen on telephone poles.  Significant releases of PCB exposure can occur in older schools and offices which still have their power transformers inside the building (a common practice at one time) and can occur after lightning strikes on outdoor power transformers or as leaks occur on older transformers.

Of significant concern, although PCB's have been banned, they were used in window caulking and concrete block & brick mortar mixes (as a plasticizer) prior to 1980. Therefore, any home built before this date could release significant levels of PCB's. Also, recently, the EPA has published reports showing PCB's are inadvertently produced during the manufacture of paints - especially paints containing yellow (and orange to a lesser degree). Because of the large surface areas of paints - this could be a serious problem.

After comparing both individuals who died of cancer and those who died of other illnesses, it was found that cancer patients had approximately twice the levels of PCB's in their bodies as people dying of other illnesses.The table below details specific findings:

Pesticide & Chemical Body Levels
in Persons Dying of Cancer

in Comparison to Those Dying of a Non-Cancer Illness

  Pesticide levels below are measured in parts per million 
View same column colors for easy comparison  

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Cancer Death
Cancer Death
Cancer Death
0-24 --- 0.740 0.817 0.933 --- 3.718 4.418 2.866
25-49 4.078 3.088 1.872 1.522 11.092 9.260 3.537 3.684
50-74 4.084 3.637 5.904 2.584 7.987 5.685 8.935 4.801
>75 12.809 2.562 6.689 2.788 6.276 6.217 13.115 6.183
ALL 5.668 2.840 5.026 2.138 8.805 5.912 8.686 4.515

As can be seen, comparing any identical color column between those who died of cancer and those who died of another illness shows what researchers state are "significantly higher levels of pesticide residues" in the cancer death individuals. For example, the average DDE levels in the fat tissues of females dying of cancer for all ages is 5.026 ppm (column 3), whereas, the DDE levels in females dying of an illness other than cancer was only 2.138 ppm (column 4). This same pattern can be seen for each age category which is certainly suggestive of at least being a contributing factor. It is interesting to note the drastic increase in pesticide male DDE levels of approximately 5 times above the normal non-cancer levels for the over age 75 category (columns 1 & 2).

Specific Cancers - DDE and PCB Levels

The following table shows the levels of DDE (breakdown product of DDT) and PCB's found in persons with specific cancers.  When viewing the table below note how the DDE levels found in persons with the brain tumor glioblastoma are 2.5 times higher than the non-cancer patients and nearly 4 times higher in persons dying of lymphosarcoma.  

For comparison, DDE levels in persons
dying of a non-cancer related illness are 2.5 ppm (parts per million)
and PCB levels in non-cancer deaths are 5.2 ppm.

Type of Cancer 

in cancer deaths vs.
non-cancer deaths

in cancer deaths vs.
non-cancer deaths
malignant lymphoma 4.3 ppm vs. 2.5 ppm 15.7 ppm vs. 5.2 ppm
glioblastoma 6.4 ppm vs. 2.5 ppm 12.7 ppm vs. 5.2 ppm
adenocarcinoma 3.4 ppm vs. 2.5 ppm 15.9 ppm vs. 5.2 ppm
breast cancer 5.4 ppm vs. 2.5 ppm 10.9 ppm vs. 5.2 ppm
lung  cancer 3.4 ppm vs. 2.5 ppm 8.7 ppm vs. 5.2 ppm
colon cancer 5.6 ppm vs. 2.5 ppm 12.6 ppm vs. 5.2 ppm
rectum cancer 11.2 ppm vs. 2.5 ppm 9.8 ppm vs. 5.2 ppm
lymphosarcoma 9.3 ppm vs. 2.5 ppm 24.1 ppm vs. 5.2 ppm

In conclusion, the researchers stated,

"A significantly higher content of PCB's and DDE in the extracted lipids (fat) of subcutaneous abdominal fat from terminal patients with cancer, than that of presumably non cancerous patients, was found."

Niels K. Jensen, M.D., Gunnar Nordberg, M.D.
Department of Community Health and Environmental Medicine
School of Medicine
Odense University, Denmark
Pathological Institute, Odense University
Umea University, Sweden

This study looked at the levels of the chemicals DDE and PCB's. To provide additional understanding to this significance, DDE is a metabolite that forms from the breakdown of the pesticide DDT. Exposure can occur from the consumpiton of non-organic food as U.S. produce is imported heavily from countries that still allow the use of DDT on food crops. DDT/DDE is also a contaminant in the pesticide "Kelthane" (dicofol) and is sprayed routinely on orange and grapefruit trees in California and Florida. PCB's were used as a coolant in the common cylinder-shaped power transformers that reduce volages for home use. PCB exposure is erroneously considered to be something of the past, however, PCB's are present in significant levels in homes built in the 1960's and 1970's. During this two decade period, PCB's were used to improve the pliability of brick/concrete block mortar and also used in the majority of cauking applied in this homes around windows, etc. PCB's in the parts per billion level have been found to have significant effects on the human immune system and brain development.

There are two ways that the elevated chemical levels found in cancer patients may be contributing to their disease:

1. By contributing to the damage of the genes involved in controlling cell growth (since cancer is the result of an "uncontrolled growth of cells," and...

2. By weakening the immune system of the individual, thereby allowing the cancer to grow faster than the body's ability to remove it via cancer fighting immune cells. Keep in mind that these chemicals themselves may or may not be the direct cause of the cancer, as there may be other chemicals or circumstances that may have gradually contributed to the weakening of the individual's genetic structure.  However, elevated levels of these chemicals could accelerate the onset or growth of any cancer by either of the above two mentioned mechanisms.  Exposure to the DDT breakdown product DDE can come from a number of sources including commercially grown food (for example - 19% of standard chemically-grown lettuce contains DDT according to Florida Department of Agriculture figures, as DDT is still used in much of foreign grown produce).  Another exposure source could come from living near a citrus grove, as the controversial pesticide Kelthane (which contains DDT as an unintentional by-product) is still "inexcusably" used today in orange and grapefruit groves.   Even homes built prior to 1975 could have been treated with DDT for common insect/pest control.  Without question, this study is one of the strongest completed to date to suggest a direct or indirect relationship of petroleum based chemical exposure and subsequent development of cancer.


Diet Drinks Suspected for Increasing Brain Cancer Risk
SOURCE: Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology, 55(11):1115-23, 1996

Increased Brain Cancer Rates are at least partially suspected to be caused by the diet drink ingredient ASPARTAME (also known as Nutra-Sweet).  Concern arises as new research shows diet drink sweeteners can cause mutagenic damage. Scientists at Washington University explained their findings in the  abstract summary below:

"In the past two decades brain tumor rates have risen in several industrialized countries, including the United States.  During this time, brain tumor data have been gathered by the National Cancer Institute from catchment areas representing 10% of the United States population.  In the present study, we analyzed these data from 1975 to 1992 and found that the brain tumor increases in the United States occurred in two distinct phases, an early modest increase that may primarily reflect improved diagnostic technology and a more recent sustained increase in the incidence and shift toward greater malignancy that must be explained by some other factor(s).  Compared to other environmental factors putatively linked to brain tumors, the artificial sweetener aspartame is a promising candidate to explain the recent increase in incidence and degree of malignancy of brain tumors.  Evidence potentially implicating aspartame includes an early animal study revealing an exceedingly high incidence of brain tumors in aspartame-fed rats compared to no brain tumors in concurrent controls, the recent finding that the aspartame molecule has mutagenic potential, and the  close temporal association (aspartame was introduced into US food and beverage markets several years prior to the sharp increase in brain tumor incidence and malignancy).  We conclude that there is need for reassessing the carcinogenic potential of aspartame.

Olney, JW; Farber, N.B.; Spitznagel, E.; Robins, L.N.
Department of Psychiatry, Washington University Medical School, St. Louis, MO



High Brain Cancer Rates among Pesticide Applicators
SOURCE: International  Journal of Epidemiology, 22(4):579,1993

Workers who applied pesticides were found to have nearly 3 times the normal rate of brain cancer. A total of 2,310 male licensed pesticide applicators were surveyed for cancer who handled pesticides between 1973-1979.  After studying the incidence of many types of cancer only brain cancer was found to be significantly higher than expected.  Of the 207 deaths from this group during the study period, there were 7 brain cancer deaths, while only 2.6 would be expected. Other cancers studied included cancer of the lung, stomach, large intestine, liver, pancreas, brain, kidney, bladder, prostate, leukemia and multiple myeloma. 

In conclusion the researchers stated:

"The only cancer site showing an SMR significantly higher than 100 (SMR means Standardized Mortality Ratio, whereas 100 is normal, 200 is twice the normal rate etc.) in our cohort was brain cancer.  The number of deaths expected on the basis of national mortality rates was 2.6, significantly lower than the observed.  The fact that most of the excess cases were concentrated in the 65 and over age group is also noteworthy.  Alberghini et al also found a higher mortality rate for brain cancer in an Italian  cohort of licensed pesticide users, especially in the age group over 65.   Corrao et al. in a study conducted in Piedmont, observed an increased risk of central nervous system cancer among pesticide users in the earliest birth cohort. Other studies also report an increase in cancers of the brain and nervous system among farmers and pesticide license holders.  Mussicco et al in a case-control study on 240 cases of brain glioma, hospitalized in Milan, stressed the relation between this cancer site and the use of chemicals in agriculture, especially insecticides and fungicides.  The possible causative association between these of pesticides and brain cancer is considered plausible given the toxicological effect of these chemicals on the central nervous system."

Iren Giga-Talamanca, Irene Mearellli, Pasquale Valente,
Susanna Bascherini
Department of Biological & Animal Research
University of Rome, Italy


Living Near Agriculture Increases Brain Cancer Risk
SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, 86(9):1289-1296

High brain cancer rates were found for people living near a cranberry agricultural growing area in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health compared the home locations of approximately 1000 cancer patients to the home locations of 1000 patients dying of illnesses not related to cancer. Results showed that living within 2600 feet of the cranberry growing area resulted in twice the risk for all brain cancers and nearly a 7-fold increased risk for a type of brain cancer known as astrocytoma. (Astrocytomas are in the family of "glioma" cancers which begin in the glial tissue (glial tissue are the cells which hold the other brain cells together).

Note: In children, astrocytomas often occur in the brain stem, the cerebrum, and the cerebellum.  A grade III astrocytoma is sometimes called an anaplastic astrocytoma.  A grade IV astrocytoma is usually called a glioblastoma multiforme.  Doctors often refer to brain tumors by grade - from low grade (grade I) to high grade (grade IV).  Cells from higher grade tumors are more abnormal looking under a microscope and usually grow faster and are more malignant than lower grade tumors.

Comments from Chem-Tox: This study generates significant concerns as St. Lucie County and Indian River County have the highest pesticide use (as a percentage of total acreage) of all Florida Counties.  For details on the amounts and types of pesticides typically used in growing citrus please visit our Citrus Pesticide Use Figures web page.  There appears to be a disproportionate number of brain cancer victims in the Fort Pierce and Vero Beach area   who have lived in very close proximity to citrus groves.  This relationship appears not be coincidence and will be studied in more detail in the upcoming months.

Aschengrau-A; Ozonoff-D; Coogan-P; Vezina-R; Heeren-T; Ahang-Y
Boston University School of Public Heatlth, Massachusetts


Family Pesticide Use Suspected in Child Cancers
SOURCE: Archives of Environmental Contamination Toxicology, 24(1):87-92, 1993

The relationship between family pesticide use and childhood bain cancer was examined in this case-control study in 1990. After comparing brain cancer rates for families using pesticides and those not using pesticides it was found that the chemicals did increase the risk of getting cancer. Significant positive associations were observed for use of pesticides to control nuisance pests in the home, no-pest strips in the home, pesticides to control termites, Kwell shampoo, flea collars on pets, diazinon in the garden or orchard, and herbicides to control weeds in the yard.   Other risk factors identified were pesticide bombs in the home.

Davis JR, Brownson, RC, Garcia-R
Division of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Missouri
Department of Health, Columbia


Italian Pesticide Applicators have High Brain Cancer Rate
SOURCE: International Journal of Epidemiology, 22(4):579-583, 1993

A study was conducted of 2,310 male pesticide applicators who worked in Italy between 1973-1979.  The health of these men was followed until the end of the study in 1988.  There were 207 total deaths among this group.  Of these 207 deaths there were 7 brain cancer deaths.  This is nearly 2.5 times higher than the expected rate of 2.7.  After all factors were taken into consideration these statistics were considered significant and suggests that pesticides were a contributing factor.

Irene Figa-Talamanca, Irene Mearelli, Pasquale Valente, Susanna Bascherini
Department of Biolgia Animale e dell Uomo
University degli Studi di Roma, Rome Italy


Newborn Vitamin K administration
linked to higher cancer rate for 1-6 year old children
SOURCE: British Medical Journal, 316:189-193, Jan 17, 1998

In this study of over 4000 children, published in the British Medical Journal (1998), scientists did not identify an increased risk for "all" child cancers for infants given Vitamin-K injections.  However, when scientists went one step further and investigated individual types of cancer, they did in fact find an increased risk for the cancer lymphoblastic leukemia.  The study compared cancer rates for infants born in hospitals where all children received Vitamin-K to hospitals where only one-third of infants received Vitamin-K. 

CHEM-TOX COMMENT:  Vitamin K administration is often given to newborns under the premise that it is important in reducing the risk of hemorrhagic disease (excessive bleeding).  Because of previous studies showing genetic damage occurring in blood cells of animals given vitamin-K, there has been concern that negative effects could occur in children given Vitamin-K.  A number of follow up studies looking for increased cancer risk in children given Vitamin-K have been conducted with the majority showing no increased risk.   However, these studies have investigated "overall" cancer risk, thereby diluting potential to identify increases in specific cancers.  This particular study, which investigated specific child cancers, was in fact able to identify an increased cancer risk for lymphoblastic leukemia.  Since risk for excessive bleeding in newborns is higher for mothers taking certain prescription medications dudring pregnancy - studies need to be conducted to determine if beneficial effects of Vitamin-K are significant for mothers who are not taking these specific prescription medications during pregnancy. 

Sir James Spence Institute of Child Health
University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England


Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Increasing Rapidly
only in Industrialized Countries

SOURCE: Annals of Oncology, Vol. 5(1):S19-S24, 1994

Below is the abstract from the original article:

The epidemiology of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) was reviewed. In the United States, the annual incidence of NHL rose from 5.9 per 100,000 people in 1950 to 9.3 per 100,000 in 1975, to 13.7 in 1989. The elderly showed the greatest increase. Most of the recent increase was not attributable to acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Mortality rates due to NHL were increasing at almost 2% per year and were also not a factor of increased "life-expectancy". The largest proportional increases occurred in the brain and other areas of the nervous system. Occupational studies have indicated that persons with certain jobs have an increased risk, including farmers, applicators of pesticides, grain millers, wood and forestry workers, chemists, cosmetologists, machinists, printers, and those working in the petroleum, rubber, plastics, and synthetics industries. A three to nine fold increased risk of developing NHL was noted for patients receiving treatment with alkylating agents or radiotherapy. The most extensive data related to pesticides and the occurrence of NHL suggest that exposure to phenoxy herbicides, particularly 2,4-D (94757), is linked to NHL. Flour millers exposed to fungicides and fumigant pesticides had over a four fold increased risk of NHL; long term followup indicated this risk increased to nine fold. An etiologic link between exposure to various solvents and NHL has been defined by recent studies including benzene (71432), styrene (100425), 1,3-butadiene (106990), trichlorethylene (79016), perchloroethylene (127184), creosote (8021394), lead-arsenate (10102484), formaldehyde (50000), paint thinners, and oils and greases. Recent findings also indicated an increased risk of NHL in those exposed to dusts and particles, hair dyes, and cigarette smoke. An association was noted between NHL and Helicobacter-pylori infection. Nitrate contamination of groundwater also may be linked to increased incidences of NHL.


Leukemia Patients Survival Predicted by
Natural Killer Cell Activity and Cytokine Production

SOURCE: LEUKEMIA, 10:478-482, 1996

Researchers at the Department of Internal Medicine, Tottori University Faculty of Medicine, Japan studied the natural killer cell activity and production of cytokines from 44 leukemia patients who had either gone into remission or experienced a relapse back into a full leukemia state.  In conclusion the researchers stated:

In this study, the Natural Killer Cell activity was severely decreased in the patients at untreated or relapsed stage, but it increased gradually during remission after consolidation.  However, it was still lower than the control value even at maintenance or off treatment stage...... The ability to produce the cytokines IL-1, IFN and IL-2 (cytokines are natural compounds produced by the immune system that enhance many aspects of immune system activity) which are potent regulators of Natural Killer cell function, is severely depressed in Acute Leukemia not only at untreated or relapsed stage but also after consolidation and at maintenance or off treatment; in addition, the absolute numbers of Natural Killer cells are low at these stages.  These observations suggest that the Natural Killer activity is remarkably depressed in Acute Leukemia patients. 

F. Tajima, T Kawatani, A Endo and H. Kawasaki
Second Department of Internal Medicine
Tottori University Faculty of Medicine, Yonago, Japan
LEUKEMIA, 10:478-482, 1996