OBJECTIVES: To study the risk of lung cancer in different subgroups of professional drivers in urban and rural areas of Sweden. METHODS: Information on occupation and geographical region was obtained from the Swedish census of 1970 and data on the incidence of lung cancer between 1971 and 1984 from the National Swedish Cancer Registry. Professional drivers were separated into bus, taxi, and long and short distance lorry drivers. Comparisons of cumulative incidence of lung cancer were made between each particular group of drivers and gainfully employed men in the same region. RESULTS: Taxi drivers, and long and short distance lorry drivers in Stockholm County showed increased relative risks (RRs) of lung cancer with the highest risk among the short distance lorry drivers (RR 2.0, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.5 to 2.6). These categories of drivers also showed increased risks in the other two large conurbations in Sweden. In the rest of the country (mainly rural areas) there were no increased RRs for any category of driver. The RR for bus drivers was not increased in any region. After adjustment for assumed differences in smoking habits the RRs remained significantly increased for lorry drivers in Stockholm but not for other groups of drivers in other areas. However, the RRs remained numerically higher in large conurbations than in rural regions for all groups of drivers. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that some factors present in the urban environment play a substantial part in the excess of lung cancer among short distance lorry drivers in urban areas of Sweden. Exposure to motor exhaust fumes may have contributed to this excess.
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