The pronounced geographical and temporal variations in gastric and duodenal ulcer suggest that important environmental factors must play a part in their aetiology. To determine the nature of possible factors, the Registrar General's decennial supplement and the vital statistics special reports of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare on occupational mortality were analysed for occupation-specific mortality from peptic ulcer. The data disclose a high mortality from both types of ulcer among manual workers and a low mortality among sedentary occupations. This general pattern runs parallel to a low mortality from gastric and duodenal ulcer among the high social classes and a high mortality in the low social classes. Married women displayed a gradient of gastric ulcer mortality increasing from social class 1 to social class 5 but gave no evidence of social class correlation with respect to duodenal ulcer. The significant correlation between mortality from gastric and duodenal ulcer among different occupations could suggest that both types of ulcer hold some of the precipitating environmental risks in common. In duodenal ulcer the varying extent of energy expenditure among different occupations may be responsible for the different risk of contracting duodenal ulcer and dying from it. The association between energy expenditure and peptic ulcer mortality seems to be less important for gastric ulcer where additional factors associated with social class may also be operating.
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