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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2018

Comparison of cancer incidence in Australian farm residents 45 years and over, compared to rural non-farm and urban residents - a data linkage study

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2018
Julie Depczynski, Timothy Dobbins, Bruce Armstrong, Tony Lower



It is not known if the incidence of common cancers in Australian farm residents is different to rural non-farm or urban residents.


Data from farm, rural non-farm and urban participants of the 45 and Up Study cohort in New South Wales, Australia, were linked with state cancer registry data for the years 2006–2009. Directly standardised rate ratios for cancer incidence were compared for all-cancer, prostate, breast, colorectal cancer, melanoma and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). Proportional hazards regression was used to generate incidence hazard ratios for each cancer type adjusted for relevant confounders.


Farm women had a significantly lower all-cancer hazard ratio than rural non-farm women (1.14, 1.01–1.29). However, the lower all-cancer risk observed in farm men, was not significant when compared to rural non-farm and urban counterparts. The all-cancer adjusted hazard ratio for combined rural non-farm and urban groups compared to farm referents, was significant for men (1.08,1.01–1.17) and women (1.13, 1.04–1.23). Confidence intervals did not exclude unity for differences in risk for prostate, breast, colorectal or lung cancers, NHL or melanoma. Whilst non-significant, farm residents had considerably lower risk of lung cancer than other residents after controlling for smoking and other factors.


All-cancer risk was significantly lower in farm residents compared to combined rural non-farm and urban groups. Farm women had a significantly lower all-cancer adjusted hazard ratio than rural non-farm women. These differences appeared to be mainly due to lower lung cancer incidence in farm residents.
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