Objectives: To assess male lung cancer risks for industrial sectors in the Netherlands and to estimate the proportion of lung cancer attributed to working in specific industrial sectors.
Methods: Associations were studied among men aged 55–69 years (n = 58 279) from the prospective Netherlands Cohort Study. 1920 incident lung cancer cases were available after 11.3 years of follow-up. Based on a case-cohort design, and using Cox proportional hazards models, risks were estimated for blue collar workers in 26 industrial sectors.
Results: Adjustment for individual smoking habits affected risk estimates for some sectors, but adjustment for fruit/vegetables and alcohol intake did not. Adjusted for confounders, an increased risk of lung cancer was observed for employment for ⩾15 years in blue collar jobs in the “electronics and optical instruments” industry (rate ratio (RR) 1.99; 95% CI 1.18 to 3.35), “construction and homebuilding business” (RR 1.64; 95% CI 1.21 to 2.22) and “railway company” (RR 2.40; 95% CI 1.00 to 5.73). The attributable fraction for working for ⩾15 years in these three industries was 5%. In three other sectors there was a statistically non-significant elevated RR of >1.5.
Conclusions: Male lung cancer risk is increased in several industrial sectors. Approximately 2000 lung cancer cases between 1986 and 1997 in the 55–69-year-old age group in the Netherlands may be attributable to working for ⩾15 years in the three sectors with increased risk. In addition, estimates for occupational lung cancer risks for sectors may be biased if no individual information is available on smoking habits.
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Funding: This study was financially supported by the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employability. The NLCS was established with the financial support of the Dutch Cancer Society.
Competing interests: None declared.