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British rubber and cable industry cohort: 49-year mortality follow-up


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

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