Article posted Thursday, May 15, 2014 2:06pm

Scientists in New Zealand collected data contained in the death certificates of 14,000 people, ages 35 to 85. They found that individuals who grew up on livestock farms were 22 percent more likely to die of blood cancer (e.g., leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) than those who grew up elsewhere. Poultry farms, where viruses are relatively common, were associated with a 33 percent greater risk, and cattle farms also showed increased risk. There appeared to be no effect on the incidence of cancer among crop farmers, however. The authors theorize that “exposure to particular types of viruses in childhood may alter the immune system response, so increasing the risk of blood cancer in later life.” This is an unfortunate truth about the expression of cancer in later life, for it may occur as a result of environmental exposure decades earlier. (Mannetje et al, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, July 27, 2011; ScienceDaily, July 27, 2011)