Collaboration Details

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Title of Collaborative Activity:

The Agricultural Health Study

Description of Collaborative Activity:

The Agricultural Health Study (AHS) is a prospective study of cancer and other health outcomes (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, respiratory diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, and reproductive health) in a cohort of licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses from Iowa and North Carolina. The AHS began in 1993 with the goal of answering important questions about how agricultural, lifestyle and genetic factors affect the health of farming populations. The study is a collaborative effort involving investigators from National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. More than 89,000 pesticide applicators and spouses in Iowa and North Carolina have participated in the study. Their participation has provided, and continues to provide, the data that researchers need to help the current and future generations of farmers and their families live healthier lives. Between 1993 and 1997, 52,394 licensed private pesticide applicators (mostly farmers) from Iowa and North Carolina enrolled, as did 32,345 of their spouses. The study also included 4,916 commercial pesticide applicators in Iowa in its first two phases. The average ages at enrollment were 47.1 years, 38.0 years, and 46.9 years for private applicators, commercial applicators and spouses. The study began by collecting baseline information from participants when they enrolled (1993-1997). Follow-up telephone interviews were conducted in the second (1999-2003), third phase (2005-2010), and fourth phases (2013-2015) of the study. At Phase 2, participants provided updated information on farming practices, lifestyle, and health and were asked to complete a dietary questionnaire and provide a sample of cheek cells as a source of DNA. The Phase 3 interview also updated information on farming practices, lifestyle, and health while Phase 4 focused on changes in health status. The cohort continues to be followed via linkages with cancer registries and vital statistics. Participants periodically participate in comprehensive sub-studies, including an investigation of genetic and environmental risk factors for asthma and other respiratory diseases and studies of Parkinson’s disease, neurobehavioral function and cognitive decline. Biological and environmental samples are being collected from a subset of the cohort to facilitate mechanistic studies that might explain links between pesticide and other exposures and increased risk for cancer and other conditions.

Type of Collaborative Activity:

Research Initiative

Year the Collaborative Activity Originated:


NIH Participating Institutes/Centers/Office of the Director:


HHS Agency Collaborators on this Activity: