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Paternal occupation and retinoblastoma: a case–control study based on data for Great Britain 1962–1999


Objectives: To examine the association between paternal occupational exposures and retinoblastoma using birth registration data for cases from the National Registry of Childhood Tumours (NRCT) and controls from the general population of Great Britain.

Methods: A case–control study of paternal occupational data for 1318 cases of retinoblastoma, born and diagnosed in Great Britain between 1962 and 1999, and 1318 controls matched on sex, date of birth and birth registration sub-district. Paternal occupations at birth were grouped according to inferred exposure using an occupational exposure classification scheme. A conditional (matched) case–control analysis was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for each paternal occupational exposure group.

Results: For non-heritable retinoblastoma, a statistically significant increased risk was found with father’s definite occupational exposure to oil mists in metal working (OR = 1.85 (95% CI 1.05 to 3.36)). Together with a (non-significant) risk (OR = 1.64 (0.73 to 3.83)) amongst the heritable cases, this occupational exposure was also associated with a significant increased risk when all retinoblastoma cases were considered together (OR = 1.77 (1.12 to 2.85)). No statistically significant associations were observed for other exposure groups.

Conclusions: Our finding for exposure to oil mists in metal working (a subset of metal workers) is not directly comparable to those for metal working previously reported in the literature. Overall, our findings do not support the hypothesis that paternal occupational exposure is an important aetiological factor for retinoblastoma, however, the study has low power and other methodological limitations.

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