Exposure to metal-working fluids in the automobile industry and the risk of male germ cell tumours

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Abstract

Introduction

In a previous analysis of a case–control study of testicular cancer nested in a cohort of automobile workers, we observed an increased risk for testicular cancer among workers who had ever been involved in occupational metal-cutting tasks. We investigated whether this risk increase was due to exposure to metal-working fluids (MWF).

Methods

Occupational exposure to MWF was assessed in detail using a job-specific questionnaire for metal-cutting work. We calculated ORs and associated 95% CIs individually matched for age (±2 years) and adjusted for a history of cryptorchidism by conditional logistic regression.

Results

The prevalence of exposure to MWF was 39.8% among cases and 40.1% among controls. For total germ cell tumours and seminomas we did not observe risk increases for metal-cutting tasks or occupational exposure to MWF (OR 0.95; 95% CI 0.69 to 1.32 and OR 0.88; 95% CI 0.58 to 1.35, respectively). However, dermal exposure to oil-based MWF was associated with an increased risk for non-seminomatous testicular cancer. Dermal exposure to oil-based MWF for more than 5000 h showed particularly high risk estimates (OR 4.72; 95% CI 1.48 to 15.09).

Discussion

Long-term dermal exposure to oil-based MWF was a risk factor for the development of non-seminomatous testicular germ cell cancer. Possible measures to reduce exposure include the introduction of engineering control measures such as venting or enclosing of machines, and enforcing the use of personal protective equipment during metal cutting.

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