A historical prospective cohort study of 6630 drivers from the Canton of Geneva was carried out to evaluate mortality and incidence of cancer in this occupation. The study population was all men (of all vocations) who held in 1949 a special licence for driving lorries, taxis, buses, or coaches and all new licence holders in the period 1949-61. Men born before 1900 and those with only an ordinary driving licence were excluded. According to the occupation registered on their licence, the 6630 drivers were distributed into three groups: (1) professional drivers (n = 1726), (2) non-professional drivers "more exposed" to exhaust gas and fumes (this group included occupations such as vehicle mechanic, policeman, road sweeper; n = 712), and (3) non-professional drivers "less exposed," composed of all other occupations (n = 4192). The cohort was followed up from 1949 to December 1986 and the trace of 197 men (3%) was lost. Compared with the general population of the Canton of Geneva, professional drivers experienced significant excess risks, taking into account 15 years of latency, for all causes of death (standardised mortality ratio (SMR) 115, 90% confidence interval (90% CI) 107-123) and for all malignant neoplasms (SMR 125, 90% CI 112-140; standardised incidence ratio (SIR) 128, 90% CI 115-142). Cause specific analysis showed significant excesses for lung cancer (SMR 150, 90% CI 123-181; SIR 161, 90% CI 129-198), oesophageal cancer (SMR 183, 90% CI 108-291), stomach cancer (SMR 179, 90% CI 117-263; SIR233, 90% CI 156-336), rectal cancer (SMR 258, 90% CIU 162-392; SIR 200, 90% CI 127-300), and cirrhosis of the liver (SMR 145, 90% CI 104-198). Risk of lung cancer increased significantly with time from first exposure. Among non-professional drivers no significant excess risk was found except for lung cancer mortality among the "less exposed" group (SMR 121, 90% CI 103-140), and for incidence of lung cancer among the "more exposed" group (SIR 161, 90% CI 111-227). The possible casual relation between exposure to engine exhaust emissions and the increased risk for lung cancer and for cancer of the gastrointestinal tract found among professional drivers is discussed.
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