No Excess Cancer Risk among Veterinarians in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden after the 1980s

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  • Laura Laakso
  • Pikka Jokelainen
  • Houe, Hans
  • Eystein Skjerve
  • Johnni Hansen
  • Lynge, Elsebeth
  • Jan-ivar Martinsen
  • Ingrid Sivesind Mehlum
  • Jenny Selander
  • Jóhanna Eyrún Torfadóttir
  • Elisabete Weiderpass
  • Sanna Heikkinen
  • Eero Pukkala
The cancer profile of veterinarians has received little research attention, despite the profession potentially being exposed to a wide range of known and suspected carcinogens. In this large-scale cohort study, we assessed cancer incidence in veterinarians in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, across more than 40 years (1961–2005). The cohort comprised 4708 veterinarians and 119,503 person-years at follow-up. The overall cancer incidence in veterinarians was close to the incidence in the total population in all countries and in all age groups. In male veterinarians, the standardized incidence ratios (SIR) in 1961–1990 were elevated for colon cancer (1.86, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.39–2.44), prostate cancer (1.35, 95% CI 1.07–1.67), and especially skin melanoma (3.62, 95% CI 2.78–2.84), while there was no longer any statistically significant excess in the more recent follow-up period. Decreased SIRs were observed for lip cancer (0.11, 95% CI 0.00–0.62), laryngeal cancer (0.38, 95% CI 0.12–0.89), lung cancer (0.59, 95% CI 0.47–0.74), and stomach cancer (0.58, 95% CI 0.38–0.86), without a marked change in SIR over time. Non-significant excesses among male veterinarians were also observed in Hodgkin lymphoma (1961–1990 only), and leukaemia. This multi-country study indicates that there was an elevated incidence of several cancer types among male veterinarians before the 1990s but not after that. Some of the findings might rather be attributed to lifestyle factors and not directly to work conditions, but the excess risk of cancers of kidney and bladder, for example, might be related to work exposures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4079
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 362471710