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Mortality study of British pathologists 1974-80.
  1. J M Harrington,
  2. D Oakes


    Membership lists of the Royal College of Pathologists from 1974 to 1980 were used to establish a population of 2307 men and 413 women. During the period of study 126 of these pathologists died and death certificates were obtained for 121. The standardised mortality ratios (SMR) for all causes in men were 56 and in women 99. Deaths from accidents, poisoning, violence, and especially suicide, were noted to be in excess of that expected from the general population but similar to that for medical practitioners. Drug overdose was the cause of each suicide. Excess deaths from lymphatic and haemopoietic neoplasms noted in a previous study were not present but an excess of brain tumours was found. Including 1981 data thus far collected, deaths from brain tumour were apparently in excess (observed 6, expected less than 2.0, p less than 0.02). Possible aetiological hypotheses include previous exposure to organic solvents or tuberculosis infection. In view of the pathologists' exposure to formaldehyde it is interesting to note that no nasal or nasal sinus tumours were reported and the SMR for lung cancer was 41.

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