Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Pesticide May Raise Lung Cancer Risk

Chemical Chlorpyrifos Deserves More Study, Say Researchers
WebMD Health News

Nov. 29, 2004 - A new study shows that high levels of exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos may raise the risk of lung cancer. The findings are published in the Dec. 1 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely used insecticides in the U.S., with about 8-10 million pounds of it used in the agricultural industry in 1999. It's in about 800 products including food crop pest control, indoor pest control, and pet collars.

But you probably won't find chlorpyrifos in your home. Not any more, that is. It was widely used in U.S. homes until 2000, when the Environmental Protection Agency phased it out or limited its residential use.

The new findings come from Michael Alavanja, DrPH, of the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues. Alavanja's team reviewed data from more than 54,000 pesticide applicators in Iowa and North Carolina. Just under half had been exposed to chlorpyrifos.

Those with the most chlorpyrifos exposure had about twice the lung cancer risk as unexposed pest control professionals. The link held after factoring in other possible influences, including smoking, other occupational exposures, and previous lung diseases. The authors note that there weren't enough smokers in the study who were exposed to the chemical for a complete analysis.

Still, the chemical isn't a smoking gun for lung cancer, and it also wasn't linked to most other cancers studied.

"Our findings suggest an association between chlorpyrifos use and incidence of lung cancer that deserves further evaluation," write the researchers.

Today on WebMD

Broken cigarette
Do you know the myths from the facts?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
cancer fighting foods
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
Pets Improve Your Health
Vitamin D
Lung Cancer Surgery Options