Cancer mortality among beekeepers.J Occup Med 1979; 21(12):811-3JO
Carcinogenic effects of bee venom were evaluated in a mortality study of 580 occupationally exposed beekeepers. The subjects were identified through obituary notices published between 1949 and 1978 in three journals of the U.S. beekeeping industry. Death certificates of beekeepers were examined for causes of mortality, and proportionate mortality ratios were compared with those for the general U.S. population. Beekeepers had a slightly lower than expected fraction of deaths from cancer. The deficit of lung cancers in male beekeepers was significant (p less than 0.05) and may indicate that fewer beekeepers were cigarette smokers. The frequencies of other cancers did not differ significantly from expectation. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma developed in four persons, and was expected in two. Mortality from diseases other than cancer showed no unusual patterns. At least two persons died from accidents directly related to the care of beehives. Analysis of a subgroup of 377 males with major roles in the beekeeping industry showed no substantial differences in distribution of causes of death. This study of beekeepers reveals neither adverse nor beneficial effects of intense exposure to bee stings.