Although occupational exposure to animals has been associated with lymphohematopoietic malignancies, to our knowledge no studies have evaluated adult cancer risks associated with living near intensive animal agriculture.
We linked participants in the prospective Agricultural Health Study to permitted animal feeding operations in Iowa. We created metrics reflecting the intensity of animal exposures within 2 and 5 km of participants’ residences, enumerating both total and inverse distance-weighted animal units (AUs), standardized by animal size and manure production. We estimated risk of lymphohematopoietic malignancies and subtypes [hazard ratio (HR), 95% confidence interval (95% CI)], adjusting for demographic and farming-related factors, including occupational pesticide exposure. We stratified associations by animal type and animal-related work activities.
We observed 519 cases (1993–2015) among 32,635 pesticide applicators and 211 cases among 19,743 spouses. Among applicators, no associations were evident within 2 km, but risk of any lymphohematopoietic cancer was elevated across quintiles of weighted AUs within 5 km. Risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) was elevated for the second (HR = 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1, 2.1), third (HR = 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1, 2.2), and fourth (HR = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3, 2.4) highest quintiles of weighted AUs within 5 km (Ptrend = 0.52) and increased with dairy cattle AUs (Ptrend = 0.04). We found positive trends for leukemia and some NHL subtypes with increasing numbers of both beef and dairy cattle. Risks did not vary by animal-related work (Pinteraction = 0.61). Associations were similar using the total exposure metric and inconsistent among spouses.
Residential proximity to intensive animal agriculture was positively associated with risk of NHL and leukemia, even after consideration of occupational animal and pesticide exposures.