Risk of liver cancer and exposure to organic solvents and gasoline vapors among Finnish workers

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Abstract

We investigated the association between exposure to various groups of solvents and gasoline vapors and liver cancer. A cohort of economically active Finns born between 1906 and 1945 was followed up during the period 1971–1995. The incident cases of primary liver cancer (n= 2474) were identified in a record linkage with the Finnish Cancer Registry. Occupations from the 1970 census were converted to exposures using a job-exposure matrix. Cumulative exposure was calculated as the product of estimated prevalence, level and duration of exposure, and we used Poisson regression to calculate the relative risks (RR). Among the occupations entailing exposure to organic solvents, an elevated liver cancer incidence was observed in male printers, and varnishers and lacquerers. Among men, the risk was increased in the highest exposure category of aromatic hydrocarbons [RR 1.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.30–2.40], aliphatic/alicyclic hydrocarbons (RR 1.47, 95% CI 0.99–2.18), chlorinated hydrocarbons (RR 2.65, 95% CI 1.38–5.11) and “other solvents” (RR 2.14, 95% CI 1.23–3.71). Among women, the risk was increased for the group “other solvents” that includes mainly alcohols, ketones, esters and glycol ethers (RR 2.73, 95% CI 1.21–6.16). Our finding of an increased risk among workers exposed to chlorinated hydrocarbons is in line with several earlier studies on trichloroethylene. The results also suggest a link between exposure to other types of solvents and the risk of liver cancer. The possibility that alcohol consumption contributes to the observed risks cannot be totally excluded. © 2009 UICC

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