The relation of brain cancer and mortality from leukaemia to electrical occupations was investigated in a case-control study based on all deaths in 1985 and 1986 in the 16 states in the United States that report occupational data from death certificates to the national vital statistics registry. The case series comprised all 2173 men who died of primary brain cancer (International Classification of Diseases-9 ((ICD-9) code 191) and all 3400 who died of leukaemia (ICD-9 codes 204-208). Each was matched with 10 controls who died of other causes in the same year. Men employed in any electrical occupation had age race adjusted odds ratios (ORs) of 1.4 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-1.7) for brain cancer and 1.0 (95% CI 0.8-1.2) for leukaemia, compared with men in all other occupations. Brain cancer odds ratios were larger for electrical engineers and technicians (OR 2.7, 95% CI 2.1-3.4), telephone workers (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1-2.4), electric power workers (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.1-2.7), and electrical workers in manufacturing industries (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.3-3.4). There was some evidence of excess leukaemia among the same groups (ORs of 1.1-1.5) despite absence of an association for all electrical workers. The excess of deaths from brain cancer was concentrated among men aged 65 or older, whereas leukaemia was associated with electrical work only among younger decedents and those with acute lymphocytic leukaemia. These results from a large and geographically diverse population corroborate reports of increased mortality from brain cancer among electrical workers, but gives only limited support to suggestions of excess deaths from leukaemia.
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