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Occupational exposures and risk of acoustic neuroma
  1. Michaela Prochazka1,
  2. Maria Feychting1,
  3. Anders Ahlbom1,
  4. Colin G Edwards2,
  5. Gun Nise3,
  6. Nils Plato1,
  7. Judith A Schwartzbaum4,
  8. Ulla M Forssén1,5
  1. 1Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  3. 3Division of Occupational Health, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  4. 4Division of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  5. 5Worldwide Epidemiology, GlaxoSmithKline, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Michaela Prochazka, Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM), Unit of Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, PO Box 210, SE-171 77, Stockholm, Sweden; michaela.prochazka{at}


Objectives Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumour accounting for approximately 6–10% of all intracranial tumours and occurs mainly in patients aged ≥50 years. Our aim was to investigate a wide range of occupational exposures, individual occupational titles and socioeconomic status (SES) as potential risk factors for acoustic neuroma.

Methods We conducted a population-based case–control study of 793 acoustic neuroma cases identified through the Swedish Cancer Registry and 101 762 randomly selected controls. Information on SES and occupation was obtained from censuses and linked to job-exposure matrices. Logistic regression was used to estimate ORs and calculate 95% CIs.

Results An increased OR was seen for mercury exposure <10 years before the reference year (OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.2 to 6.8), and a more modest association for benzene exposure (OR 1.8; 95% CI: 1.0 to 3.2) ≥10 years before the reference year. We observed a threefold increased risk for females working as tailors and dressmakers ≥10 years before the reference year, and a more than threefold significantly elevated OR for those working as truck and conveyor operators <10 years before the reference year. We found no convincing evidence that SES is related to disease development.

Conclusion We observed an increased risk of acoustic neuroma associated with occupational exposure to mercury, benzene and textile dust. Men working as truck and conveyor operators <10 years before the reference year had the highest increased risk of acoustic neuroma, but it is unclear what in those occupations might contribute to disease development. Our study also suggested an association between acoustic neuroma and being a class teacher or policeman. However, these findings should be further investigated to exclude the possibility of detection bias.

  • Occupations
  • case-control study
  • ear neoplasm
  • vestibular schwannoma
  • epidemiology
  • exposure assessment
  • risk assessment
  • environment

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  • Gun Nise is deceased.

  • Funding The Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (grant number 2003-0611) provided funding for this study.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the local ethics committee.

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