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LEISURE TIME EXERCISE AND IMPROVED MENTAL HEALTH AMONG SEDENTARY WORKERS
The benefits of vigorous exercise in improving physical health and preventing disease are firmly established, but less is known about the extent to which leisure time exercise might also prevent mental health problems. In this issue, Bernaards et al1 report that among a cohort of working Dutch adults, those with sedentary jobs who engaged in vigorous leisure exercise 1–2 times per week were less likely to develop symptoms of depression or emotional exhaustion, complain of poor general health, or report long term absence from work during three years of follow up. An accompanying commentary by Evanoff2 notes methodological limitations of this study and discusses the practical and scientific significance of the findings.
HIGH INJURY RATES AND SHORT TENURE ON THE JOB
Studies of occupational injuries often find high rates of injury among newly hired workers. While this elevated risk is often attributed to inexperience, the effect of experience could be confounded by worker age and other factors. Breslin and Smith3 examined this question using Canadian workers’ compensation data and found that injury rates declined with tenure among workers of all ages, with the sharpest declines between 1 and 2 months on the job. The authors suggest that high injury risk among new workers is cause for concern given the high turnover characteristic of today’s labour market.
EXPOSURES IN THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY AS RISK FACTORS FOR NASOPHARYNGEAL CANCER
Epidemiologic studies implicate occupational exposure to dusts and chemicals as risk factors for cancers of the nasal cavity, sinuses, and pharynx. Li and colleagues4 examined risk factors for these tumours in a case-cohort study of Chinese women working in the textile industry, where exposure to dusts and chemicals was estimated in a job-exposure matrix. Although the number of cases was small (n = 67), nasopharyngeal cancer was associated with exposure to cotton dust, dyes, inks, acids, and endotoxin. These findings suggest that occupational risk factors should be assessed in future studies of nasopharyngeal cancer, particularly in endemic areas like China.
LABORATORY WORK AND ADVERSE PREGNANCY OUTCOMES
Zhu et al5 used data from a Danish national birth cohort to conduct a prospective study of pregnancy outcomes among female laboratory technicians, whose work may involve exposure to chemical and physical reproductive toxins. Compared to a referent group of female teachers, laboratory technicians were no more likely to experience any adverse pregnancy outcome. Data for specific exposures suggested increased odds of preterm birth and major malformations among technicians who reported using radiolabelling or radioimmunoassay techniques, but not with exposure to radioisotopes assessed by job-exposure matrix.