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Original research
Occupational environment and ovarian cancer risk
  1. Lisa Leung1,2,3,
  2. Jérôme Lavoué3,4,
  3. Jack Siemiatycki1,3,
  4. Pascal Guénel2,
  5. Anita Koushik1,3
  1. 1 Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2 Inserm U1018, CESP, Team Exposome and Heredity, Université Paris-Saclay, Villejuif, France
  3. 3 Université de Montréal Hospital Research Centre, CRCHUM, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  4. 4 Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anita Koushik, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC H3T 1J4, Canada; anita.koushik{at}


Objectives To investigate employment in an occupation or industry and specific occupational exposures in relation to ovarian cancer risk.

Methods In a population-based case–control study conducted in Montreal, Canada (2011–2016), lifetime occupational histories were collected for 491 cases of ovarian cancer and 897 controls. An industrial hygienist coded the occupation and industry of each participant’s job. Associations with ovarian cancer risk were estimated for each of several occupations and industries. Job codes were linked to the Canadian job-exposure matrix, thereby generating exposure histories to many agents. The relationship between exposure to each of the 29 most prevalent agents and ovarian cancer risk was assessed. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (OR (95% CI)) for associations with ovarian cancer risk were estimated using logistic regression and controlling for multiple covariates.

Results Elevated ORs (95% CI) were observed for employment ≥10 years as Accountants (2.05 (1.10 to 3.79)); Hairdressers, Barbers, Beauticians and Related Workers (3.22 (1.25 to 8.27)); Sewers and Embroiderers (1.85 (0.77 to 4.45)); and Salespeople, Shop Assistants and Demonstrators (1.45 (0.71 to 2.96)); and in the industries of Retail Trade (1.59 (1.05 to 2.39)) and Construction (2.79 (0.52 to 4.83)). Positive associations with ORs above 1.42 were seen for high cumulative exposure versus never exposure to 18 agents: cosmetic talc, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, hair dust, synthetic fibres, polyester fibres, organic dyes and pigments, cellulose, formaldehyde, propellant gases, aliphatic alcohols, ethanol, isopropanol, fluorocarbons, alkanes (C5–C17), mononuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from petroleum and bleaches.

Conclusions Certain occupations, industries and specific occupational exposures may be associated with ovarian cancer risk. Further research is needed to provide a more solid grounding for any inferences in this regard.

  • epidemiology
  • occupational health
  • materials, exposures or occupational groups

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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  • Contributors AK is the principal investigator of the PROVAQ study. LL, AK and PG designed the analytical strategy and interpreted the results from this analysis. LL cleaned data, performed the statistical analysis and drafted the paper under the supervision of AK and PG. JL and JS developed CANJEM, provided access to it, consulted on the statistical analysis and reviewed the paper. AK is responsible for the overall content as the guarantor.

  • Funding The original data collection was funded by the Canadian Cancer Society (Grant #700485) and the Cancer Research Society, the Fonds de recherche du Québec-Santé and the Ministère de l’Économie de la Science et de l’Innovation du Québec GRePEC program (Grant #16264). LL is supported by the French National Cancer Institute (Institut National du Cancer).

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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