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Mortality and cancer incidence among Swedish lumberjacks exposed to phenoxy herbicides


OBJECTIVES To determine mortality and cancer incidence relative to exposure to phenoxy herbicides.

METHODS A cohort of Swedish lumberjacks of which 261 were exposed to phenoxy herbicides, and 250 were unexposed, was followed up for mortality from 1954 to 1994, and for cancer incidence from 1958 to 1992. The number of days of exposure to phenoxy herbicides was determined from pay slips. With the county population as a reference, standardised mortality ratios and cancer incidence ratios (SMR and SIR) were calculated.

RESULTS Mortality and cancer incidence were low with two exceptions; a small but highly exposed group of foremen showed an increased cancer incidence (SIR 274, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 100 to 596), and over all mortality (SMR 141, 95% CI 68 to 260). Of three cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, two were found among the most exposed workers.

CONCLUSIONS The results provide some support to claims of previous studies that exposure to phenoxy herbicides might be related to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and to an increased overall cancer risk.

  • phenoxy herbicides
  • lumberjacks
  • cancer

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