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Cancer incidence among semiconductor and electronic storage device workers
  1. T J Bender1,
  2. C Beall1,
  3. H Cheng1,
  4. R F Herrick2,
  5. A R Kahn3,
  6. R Matthews1,
  7. N Sathiakumar1,
  8. M J Schymura3,
  9. J H Stewart2,
  10. E Delzell1
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  2. 2Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3New York State Cancer Registry, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 T J Bender
 Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 523 Ryals Building, 1665 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA; bender{at}


Aims: To evaluate cancer incidence among workers at two facilities in the USA that made semiconductors and electronic storage devices.

Methods: 89 054 men and women employed by International Business Machines (IBM) were included in the study. We compared employees’ incidence rates with general population rates and examined incidence patterns by facility, duration of employment, time since first employment, manufacturing era, potential for exposure to workplace environments other than offices and work activity.

Results: For employees at the semiconductor manufacturing facility, the standardised incidence ratio (SIR) for all cancers combined was 81 (1541 observed cases, 95% confidence interval (CI) 77 to 85) and for those at the storage device manufacturing facility the SIR was 87 (1319 observed cases, 95% CI 82 to 92). The subgroups of employees with ≥15 years since hiring and ≥5 years worked had 6–16% fewer total incidents than expected. SIRs were increased for several cancers in certain employee subgroups, but analyses of incidence patterns by potential exposure and by years spent and time since starting in specific work activities did not clearly indicate that the excesses were due to occupational exposure.

Conclusions: This study did not provide strong or consistent evidence of causal associations with employment factors. Data on employees with long potential induction time and many years worked were limited. Further follow-up will allow a more informative analysis of cancer incidence that might be plausibly related to workplace exposures in the cohort.

  • DMVs, departments of motor vehicles
  • IBM, International Business Machines
  • SES, socioeconomic status
  • SIR, standardised incidence ratio
  • SSN, social security number

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  • Published Online First 17 July 2006

  • Funding: This research was funded by the IBM Corporation. TJB also received support from the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • The collection of cancer incidence data used in this study was supported by the California Department of Health Services as part of the statewide cancer reporting program mandated by California Health and Safety Code Section 103885; the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program under contract N01-PC-35136 awarded to the Northern California Cancer Center, contract N01-PC-35139 awarded to the University of Southern California, and contract N02-PC-15105 awarded to the Public Health Institute; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries, under agreement #U55/CCR921930-02 awarded to the Public Health Institute. The ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors, and endorsement by the State of California, Department of Health Services, the National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or their contractors and subcontractors is not intended nor should be inferred.

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