Over the past 40 years, a substantial rise in the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) has been observed. Epidemiologic studies aimed at understanding this rise have revealed some association with occupational exposure. NHL is common among farmers, where pesticides have been described as the culprit. The association between pesticides and NHL has been demonstrated mainly in case-control studies, while retrospective cohorts have been less convincing. Pesticides including chlorphenol and phenoxyacetic acid herbicides, organochlorines, and organophosphate insecticides, carbamates, and fungicides have been associated with NHL. Although the causality has not been clearly proven, both genotoxic and nongenotoxic mechanisms for lymphomagenesis have been proposed. The leveling-off of NHL incidence in certain countries may be the result of a favorable change in pesticide usage patterns. Future studies, such as the Agricultural Health Study, may clarify the uncertainties regarding this issue.
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