Introduction Brazil is the second-largest producer and largest exporter of tobacco in the world. The majority of tobacco production occurs in the southern states, where there is a predominance of family farming. Previous studies point to the excessive use of pesticides used during the culture of tobacco and health effects, including depression. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of depression in a city where there is cultivation of tobacco.
Methods The work was conducted by the National Cancer Institute, in Paraíso do Sul municipality, southern Brazil, between October and December 2007. We selected men and women over 18 years (N=2044). A questionnaire was applied, which sought to characterise their socioeconomic conditions, health and agricultural work. For this study, in addition to depression (the outcome) the following were selected as covariates age, sex, tobacco use, alcohol dependence and exposure to pesticides.
Results The prevalence of depression was 25% in women and 11% in men. When stratified by age categories, it was 27.1%, 42.4% and 34.1% in women aged >29 years, 30–49 years and >50 years, respectively (p=0.004). Among women agricultural workers, the prevalence was significantly greater in those directly exposed to pesticides (31%) compared to those not directly exposed (19%)(p=0.01). The prevalence (both sexes) was higher among those with alcoholism (42.9%), both suspected cases (33.7%) and undetected cases (18.9%) (p=0.002).
Conclusion The prevalence of depression in Paraíso do Sul was higher than other southern regions in Brazil (7%). Additional studies are needed to further investigate this outcome, especially in women involved in the cultivation of tobacco.
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