Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1987;13(1):9-17    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.2077

Phenoxy herbicides and soft-tissue sarcomas in female rice weeders. A population-based case-referent study.

by Vineis P, Terracini B, Ciccone G, Cignetti A, Colombo E, Donna A, Maffi L, Pisa R, Ricci P, Zanini E, et al.

A population-based case-referent study was conducted in an area of northern Italy where rice growing is the predominant agricultural activity and phenoxy herbicides have been used since 1950. Manual rice weeding was formerly performed by a seasonal female working population; in the early 1950s these women were concurrently exposed to chemical herbicides. Sixty-eight persons representing incident and histologically revised cases (31 women) and 158 population referents (73 women) were interviewed. The cases were histologically confirmed independently by two blinded pathologists, and exposure to phenoxy herbicides was assessed by two blinded pesticide researchers. An age-adjusted odds ratio of 0.91 was found for the living men (with suspect exposures; no man diagnosed as a case had been exposed with certainty to phenoxy herbicides). Among the living women the relative risk was 2.7 (90% confidence interval 0.59-12.37), and it further increased when attention was restricted to women exposed in the whole 1950-1955 period and to younger age groups.