OBJECTIVES: Little has been known about the risk of cancer associated with occupational exposure to manganese. The objective of this study was therefore to examine the associations between duration of specific work and cancer incidence among employees in four Norwegian ferromanganese and silicomanganese producing plants. METHODS: Among men first employed in 1933-91 and with at least 6 months in these plants, the incident cases of cancer during 1953-91 were obtained from The Cancer Registry of Norway. The numbers of various cancers were compared with expected figures calculated from age and calendar time specific rates for Norwegian men during the same period. Internal comparisons of rates were performed with Poisson regression analysis. The final cohort comprised 6363 men. RESULTS: A total of 607 cases of cancer were observed against 596 cases expected (standardised incidence ratio (SIR) 1.02). Internal comparisons of rates showed a positive trend between the rate of all cancers and duration of furnace work. A slightly weaker trend was also found for duration of blue collar non-furnace work when lags of 25 or 30 years were applied in the analyses. However, several results indicated that the incidence of all cancers among the non-furnace workers decreased during the period of active employment. CONCLUSIONS: Furnace and non-furnace workers may have exposures that increase the incidence of several cancers. The low incidence of cancer among non-furnace workers during the period of ongoing exposure cannot be explained. As this study cannot identify any causal factors, the role of exposure to manganese remains unclear.
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