Heterocyclic aromatic amine pesticide use and human cancer risk: Eesults from the U.S. Agricultural Health Study

Stella Koutras*, Charles F. Lynch, Ma Xiaomei, Jin Lee Won, Jane A. Hoppin, Carol H. Christensen, Gabriella Andreotti, Laura Beane Freeman, Jennifer A. Rusiecki, Hon Lifang, Dale P. Sandler, Michael C.R. Alavanja

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Imazethapyr, a heterocyclic aromatic amine, is a widely used crop herbicide irst registered for use in the United States in 1989. We evaluated cancer incidence among imazethapyr-exposed pesticide applicators enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). The AHS is a prospective cohort of 57,311 licensed pesticide applicators in the U.S., enrolled from 1993-1997. Among the 49,398 licensed pesticide applicators eligible for analysis, 20,646 applicators reported use of imazethapyr and 2,907 incident cancers developed through 2004. Imazethapyr exposure was classified by intensity-weighted lifetime exposure days calculated as [years of use × days per year × intensity level], Poisson regression analysis was used to evaluate the relationship between imazethapyr exposure and cancer incidence. We found significant trends in risk with increasing lifetime exposure for bladder cancer (p for trend 0.01) and colon cancer (p for trend 0.02). Rate ratios (RRs) were increased by 137% for bladder cancer and 78% for colon cancer when the highest exposed were compared to the nonexposed. The excess risk for colon cancer was limited to proximal cancers, (RR = 2.73, 95% confidence intervals 1.42, 5.25, p for trend 0,001). No association was observed for prostate, lung, rectum, kidney, oral, pancreas, lymphohematopoietic cancers or melanoma, these Indings provide new evidence that exposure to aromatic amine pesticides may be an overlooked exposure in the etiology of bladder and colon cancer. The use of imazethapyr and other imidazolinone compounds should continue to be evaluated for potential risk to humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1206-1212
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Bladder
  • Colon
  • Occupational exposures
  • Pesticides


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