The etiology of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is relatively unknown. Incidence rates are highest in the agricultural Midwest region compared with other regions of the United States. Many studies have examined the relationship between farming and leukemia, but most have mainly focused on men. We examined the potential association between farm or rural residence and AML in the Iowa Women's Health Study. In 1986, 37,693 women who were free of prior cancer completed a lifestyle and health questionnaire, which included a question on the place of residence. Women were subsequently followed until 2002 for cancer incidence; 79 women developed AML during the time period. Women who lived on a farm at baseline were more likely (relative risk, 1.91; 95% confidence interval, 1.19-3.05) to develop AML compared with women who did not live on a farm. Further, women who reported living on a farm or in a rural area were twice as likely (relative risk, 2.38; 95% confidence interval, 1.33-4.26) to develop AML compared with women who lived in a city with a population of >10,000 people. These results provide evidence that women who live on farms or rural areas are at an increased risk of AML.
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