Do farmers have higher than average rates of cancer because they apply chemical pesticides?

Farmers actually have lower overall cancer rates than the general population. The National Cancer Institute conducted an “Agricultural Health Study.” The study began in 1993 and continued through 2011. The study concluded that farmers in many countries, including the U.S., have “lower overall death rates and cancer rates than the general population.” This is due primarily to lower smoking rates among farmers and a very active lifestyle.

The research also showed, however, that rates for certain types of cancer are higher in agricultural workers. Leukemia, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and skin cancer are some examples. Research has not been conclusive on the cause of this increased rate, however, there is cause to believe than an increased exposure of UV rays as well as environmental elements may be the cause of an increase in skin cancer among farmers.

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