A large health study is challenging the view that male farmers are more cancer-prone than other men.
The Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety and University of Sydney study is looking to find differences for major cancers between farmers, other rural residents and urban residents in New South Wales.
The survey is using medical records of 20,000 farmers who took part in the New South Wales ’45 And Up’ health survey of 267,000 people, to see if farmers’ incidence of new cancers is different from the general population.
It is also assessing cancer screening rates, stages of presentation, deaths and their correlation with risk factors like alcohol intake, smoking, exercise and diet.
Researcher Julie Depczynski said it would take a while to tease out all the results from the data, but some differences between the groups were emerging.
“[They] had a slightly lower incidence of cancer overall than the rest of the group, which was a little bit surprising. We thought they might be higher, but there may also be a healthy-worker effect with that.”
Ms Depczynski said lower rates of lung cancer deaths in both farming men and women were also emerging.