OBJECTIVES: To study risk of lung cancer among groups of professional drivers probably exposed to different levels of traffic exhaust fumes. METHODS: A nationwide case-control study (1970-89) based on employees comprising 28,744 men with primary lung cancer and incidence density sampled matched controls (1:1). Employment histories were reconstructed back to 1964 for each study subject from the records of a nationwide pension scheme with compulsory membership. Socioeconomic status was derived from the individual job title taken from the national population registry. Information on tobacco smoking habits was available from historical surveys. Relative risks were estimated by odds ratios (ORs) based on conditional logistic regression analyses. RESULTS: In total 2251 of the male lung cancer cases had been employed as bus, lorry, taxi, or unspecified drivers. No significant difference in tobacco smoking habits was found among professional male Danish drivers and the total employed population. The OR for lung cancer adjusted for socioeconomic status was 1.6 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.2 to 2.2) among taxi drivers, who were considered to be exposed to the highest concentrations of vehicle exhaust fumes, and 1.3 (1.2 to 1.5) for bus and lorry drivers. The OR was 1.4 (1.3 to 1.5) for unspecified drivers. The adjusted risk of lung cancer increased significantly with increasing duration of employment as a driver, and the risk was highest for long term taxi drivers with 10 years of lag time (OR 3.0; 1.2 to 6.8). CONCLUSION: Occupational factors, probably exposure to vehicle exhaust, seems to play an important part in the development of lung cancer among drivers.
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