Objectives To examine cancer incidence among Danish firefighters using several employment-related exposure subgroups.
Methods A historical cohort of 9061 male Danish firefighters was established from collected personnel and membership records from employers and trade unions. Using the unique Danish personal identification number, information on additional previous employment, cancer and vital status was linked to members of the cohort from the Supplementary Pension Fund Register, the Danish Cancer Registry and the Danish Civil Registration System. SIRs were calculated for specific cancer types using rates for the general population, a sample of the working population and military employees, respectively.
Results Compared with the selected reference groups, the overall observed incidence of cancer among the firefighters was at level with the expected (SIR 1.02, 95% CI 0.96 to 1.09 vs the general population). The SIR for colon cancer was consistently significantly reduced, while the slight excess seen for melanoma of the skin, prostate and testicular cancer compared with the general population was not reproduced using the military as reference.
Conclusions Previous associations with melanoma of the skin, prostate and testicular cancer are supported by our main results. However, the increase in incidence of these cancers is not reproduced using the military as reference. Similarities in cancer profile for the firefighters and the military point to shared risk factors in either lifestyle or work environment.
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Contributors KKUP collected the data, performed programming and analyses, participated in interpretation of results and wrote the manuscript. JEP performed programming of data, participated in analyses and interpretation of results, and revised the manuscript critically. JPB and NEE designed the study, supervised the interpretation of results and revised the manuscript critically. JH was a major contributor in designing the study and supervised all subsequent data collection, programming and analyses, participated in interpretation of results and supervised writing of the manuscript. JH was responsible for guaranteeing the overall content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Funding The study was funded by a grant from the Danish Working Environment Research Fund.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.