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Lung cancer in heavy equipment operators and truck drivers with diesel exhaust exposure in the construction industry
  1. B Järvholm1,
  2. D Silverman2
  1. 1Occupational Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  2. 2Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr B Järvholm, Occupational Medicine, NUS, S-901 85 Umeå, Sweden; 


Background: Several studies indicate that truck drivers have an increased risk of lung cancer, but few studies have examined lung cancer risk in heavy equipment operators. Workers in both occupations are exposed to diesel exhaust.

Aims: To examine the incidence and mortality from lung cancer among truck drivers and among drivers of heavy vehicles.

Methods: A computerised register of Swedish construction workers participating in health examinations between 1971 and 1992 was used. Male truck drivers (n = 6364) and drivers of heavy construction vehicles (n = 14 364) were selected as index groups; carpenters/electricians constituted the reference group (n = 119 984).

Results: Operators of heavy construction equipment experienced no increased risk of lung cancer compared to risk among the carpenter/electrician referents (61 cases v 70.1 expected). However, a significant inverse trend risk with increasing use of cabins was apparent. Truck drivers had increased risks of cancer of the lung (61 cases v 47.3 expected) and prostate (124 cases v 99.7 expected), although only mortality for lung cancer was significantly increased. Comparisons with the general population showed similar results.

Conclusion: Results are consistent with those of previous studies suggesting that heavy equipment operators with potential exposure to diesel exhaust may have little or no increased risk of lung cancer, although the use of cabins seemed to decrease the risk of lung cancer. The results for truck drivers are also consistent with previous reports of increased lung cancer risk among truck drivers exposed to diesel exhaust, as well as recent reports linking diesel exhaust exposure to prostate cancer.

  • cancer
  • diesel exhaust
  • occupation
  • CI, confidence interval
  • OR, odds ratio
  • PCMR, proportional cancer mortality ratio
  • RR, relative risk
  • SIR, standard incidence rate
  • SMR, standard mortality rate

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