Epidemiological studies on the aetiology of multiple myeloma are reviewed as a background to this population based case-control study performed in an area with a high incidence of multiple myeloma. The purpose was to identify and evaluate several suspected environmental factors in relation to this disease. A total of 275 confirmed cases diagnosed in four counties in northern Sweden during four years were compared with the same number of control subjects drawn from population registries. The controls were matched for age, sex, county, and vital status. Occupations and work associated exposures to chemicals and other potential carcinogens were assessed by an extensive questionnaire that also included questions on smoking habits, residential building materials, vicinity to electrical power lines, and leisure time contact with animals, electrical equipment, and chemicals. Information obtained from the questionnaires was completed by telephone interviews when necessary. Univariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression were performed. The study confirmed an association found earlier between farming and multiple myeloma. Some domestic animals (cattle, horses, and goats) and two types of pesticides (phenoxyacetic acids and DDT) were indicated as risk factors within farming. Exposure to electromagnetic fields, asbestos, and organic solvents were negatively associated with myeloma in this study.
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