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