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British rubber and cable industry cohort: 49-year mortality follow-up
  1. Damien Martin McElvenny1,
  2. William Mueller1,
  3. Peter Ritchie1,
  4. John W Cherrie1,2,
  5. Mira Hidajat3,
  6. Andrew J Darnton4,
  7. Raymond M Agius5,
  8. Frank de Vocht3
  1. 1 Research Division, Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  4. 4 Statistics Branch—Epidemiology Unit, Health and Safety Executive, Merseyside, UK
  5. 5 Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Centre for Epidemiology, School of Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Frank de Vocht, Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK; frank.devocht{at}


Background The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined there is sufficient evidence that working in the rubber manufacturing industry increases the risk of cancers of the stomach, lung, bladder and leukaemia and lymphoma.

Objectives To examine mortality patterns of a prospective cohort of men from the rubber and cable manufacturing industries in Great Britain.

Methods SMRs were calculated for males aged 35+ years at start of follow-up in 1967–2015 using the population of England and Wales as the external comparator. Tests for homogeneity and trends in SMRs were also completed.

Results For all causes, all malignant neoplasms, non-malignant respiratory diseases and circulatory diseases, SMRs were significantly elevated, and also particularly for cancers of the stomach (SMR=1.26,95% CI 1.18 to 1.36), lung (1.25,95% CI 1.21 to 1.29) and bladder (1.16,95% CI 1.05 to 1.28). However, the observed deaths for leukaemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and multiple myeloma were as expected. Bladder cancer risks were elevated only in workers exposed to antioxidants containing 1-naphthylamine and 2-naphthylamine.

Conclusions This study provides evidence of excess risks in the rubber industry for some non-cancer diseases and supports IARC’s conclusions in relation to risks for cancers of the bladder, lung and stomach, but not for leukaemia, NHL or multiple myeloma.

  • rubber and cable industry
  • industrial cohort study
  • cancer
  • mortality

Statistics from


  • Contributors DMME and FdV conceived of the study. FdV, DMME, JC and RA obtained funding for the study. WM conducted the statistical analyses and wrote the first draft version. All authors commented on the methodology and interpretation of the results. All authors commented on the draft versions of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by Cancer Research UK (C29425/A16521). Additional funding for tracing of the cohort was provided by the UK Health and Safety Executive (PRJ787).

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of CRUK or HSE.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by an NHS ethics committee (Ref: 13/NW/0543), the Health Research Authority’s Confidentiality Advisory Group (Ref: CAG 5-08(d)/2013), the Office for National Statistics and NHS Digital’s Data Access Advisory Group (now Independent Group Advising on the Release of Data, Ref: NIC-323309-L2G9T).

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

  • Data sharing statement Additional unpublished data are not available for this study.

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