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Excess of cancer in Swedish chimney sweeps.
  1. P Gustavsson,
  2. A Gustavsson,
  3. C Hogstedt
  1. Division of Occupational Medicine, National Institute of Occupational Health, Solna, Sweden.


    The incidence of cancer was investigated among 5266 Swedish chimney sweeps employed for any period between 1918 and 1980. An analysis of the mortality has been reported earlier and showed an increased number of deaths from coronary heart disease, respiratory diseases, and lung, oesophageal, and liver cancer. Excess risks for cancer of the lung and oesophagus were confirmed in this analysis. Among the lung cancers, both squamous cell carcinoma and oatcell/undifferentiated carcinoma were in excess. In addition, a more than doubled risk for bladder cancer (23 observed v 9.8 expected cases) and an increase of malignancies of the haematopoietic system was found. There were, however, no cases of scrotal cancer, the classic occupational hazard among chimney sweeps. Chimney sweeps are exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons generated by the combustion of organic material (coal, wood, coke, and oil). They are also exposed to cancerogenic metals (arsenic, nickel, and chromium). These results support the need for improved working conditions.

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