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Cancer incidence among women flax textile manufacturing workers in Lithuania
  1. Irena Kuzmickiene1,
  2. Mecys Stukonis2
  1. 1Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Institute of Oncology, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania
  2. 2Institute of Oncology, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania
  1. Correspondence to Dr Irena Kuzmickiene, Institute of Oncology, Vilnius University. Baublio 3B, Vilnius 08406, Lithuania; irena.kuzmickiene{at}


Objective To determine site-specific cancer incidence among women spinning-weaving and dyeing-finishing workers in the largest flax textile factory in Lithuania.

Method The cancer incidence of a cohort of 3447 women workers from a flax textile factory was investigated for the period 1978–2002. All subjects were employed at the plant in the period 1957–2000 for a minimum of 12 months. Standardised incidence ratios (SIRs) were estimated by use of the corresponding national rates. SIRs were calculated for the spinning-weaving and dyeing-finishing work categories, and for two durations of employment categories (<10 years, ≥10 years).

Results The cancer SIRs among spinning-weaving and dyeing-finishing workers were 0.84 (95% CI 0.69 to 1.00) and 0.90 (95% CI 0.52 to 1.44). An incidence deficit for non-melanoma skin cancer was found for the spinning-weaving unit (SIR 0.45, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.92). The risk of oral cavity and pharynx cancer was significantly increased in spinning-weaving unit workers with <10 years of employment (SIR 5.71, 95% CI 1.56 to 14.60). A significant excess of thyroid cancer and nervous system cancer was found among dyeing-finishing workers.

Conclusions The overall cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer incidence rate among flax spinning-weaving workers was lower compared with the Lithuanian population. The present findings lend some support to an excess of thyroid and nervous system cancers among dyeing-finishing workers and of oral cavity and pharynx cancer in spinning-weaving workers.

  • Cancer incidence
  • flax textile workers
  • retrospective cohort
  • epidemiology
  • cancer
  • organic dusts
  • solvents

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  • Funding This study was supported by a grant from the Lithuanian State Science and Studies Foundation (Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, no. T-47).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Lithuanian Bioethics Committee (LBEC).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.