Effects of occupation on risks of avoidable cancers in the Nordic countries

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K Kjaerheim, J I Martinsen, E Lynge, H K Gunnarsdottir, P Sparen, L Tryggvadottir, E Weiderpass, E Pukkala

Knowledge of cancer risk according to occupational affiliation is an essential part of formatting preventive actions aimed at the adult population. Herein, data on 10 major cancer sites amenable by life style exposures from the Nordic Occupational Cancer Study (NOCCA) are presented. All subjects aged 30-64 years participating in one or more national censuses in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, or Sweden between 1960 and 1990 were included in the cohort and followed up for cancer from inclusion until 2003/2005 via a linkage with the national cancer registries, and standardised incidence ratios (SIRs) were computed. Variation in risk across occupations was generally larger in men than in women. In men, the most consistent cluster with high risk of numerous cancer types included waiters, cooks and stewards, beverage workers, seamen, and chimney sweeps. Two clusters of occupations with generally low cancer risks were seen in both men and women. The first one comprised farmers, gardeners, and forestry workers, the second one included groups with high education, specifically those in health and pedagogical work. Although cancer risk varies by occupation, only a smaller part of the variation can be attributed to occupational exposures in the strict sense. Preventive measures at the work place are important to avoid established and new occupational health hazards. This study also indicates that the work place in addition should be seen as a useful arena for reaching groups of adults with more or less similar habits and attitudes for general health promotion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Volume46
Issue number14
Pages (from-to)2545-54
Number of pages10
ISSN0959-8049
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2010

    Research areas

  • Adult, Female, Finland, Humans, Iceland, Incidence, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasms, Occupational Diseases, Occupations, Risk Factors, Scandinavia, Sex Distribution

ID: 33743404