Thyroid cancer incidence rates in north dakota are associated with land and water use

Gary G. Schwartz, Marilyn G. Klug

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: The increasing rate of thyroid cancer diagnoses in the U.S. reflects the increasing use of ultrasonography and of specialist medical care. North Dakota is a rural state with limited access to specialist care, yet its incidence of thyroid cancer is significantly greater than that of the U.S. overall. We sought to identify factors responsible for the high incidence of thyroid cancer in North Dakota. Methods: We examined county-specific incidence rates for thyroid cancer in North Dakota in relation to demographic and geographic factors, including median household income, percent of land fertilized, cattle density per capita, and source of drinking water (city or well water), using structural equation modeling. We included county level data on residential radon levels and estimates of radioactive iodine in milk following nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s. Results: Thyroid cancer incidence rates were significantly associated with median income (p < 0.05); percent of land fertilized (p < 0.05); the use of city water (p < 0.01), and cattle density per capita (p < 0.001). Conclusions: The risk of thyroid cancer in North Dakota is positively associated with income and with factors related to land and water use. Our finding that thyroid cancer incidence rates are associated with the use of city water was unexpected and merits examination in other locations with a mix of city and well water use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3805
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019


  • Epidemiology
  • Radiation
  • Structural equation models
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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