Inguinal hernia repair among men in relation to occupational mechanical exposures and lifestyle factors: a longitudinal study

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Abstract

Objectives

To evaluate exposure–response relationships between occupational mechanical exposures and first-time lateral and medial inguinal hernia repair and effects of lifestyle factors. To estimate if occupational mechanical exposures advance the repairs.

Methods

This longitudinal study was based on a cohort of men aged 18–65 years with questionnaire data from the Musculoskeletal Research Database at the Danish Ramazzini Centre. We estimated occupational mechanical exposures using a job exposure matrix. First-time inguinal hernia repairs from 1998 to 2014 were identified in the Danish Hernia Database. We used Cox regression analyses and calculated excess fractions among the exposed and rate advancement periods (RAPs).

Results

Among 17 967 men, we identified 382 lateral and 314 medial repairs. The risk of lateral repairs increased with time spent standing/walking with an HR of 1.45 (95% CI 1.12 to 1.88) for ≥6 hours/day versus <4 hours/day, corresponding to an excess fraction of cases of 31% in the group with ≥6 hours/day. This group had a RAP of 6.7 (95% CI 2.6 to 10.8) years. Medial repairs were not associated with occupational mechanical exposures. A body mass index ≥30 kg/m2 showed lower HRs for both repair types. Leisure-time physical activity and smoking status were not related to any of the outcomes.

Conclusions

Assuming a causal relationship, the results suggest that around 30% of all first-time lateral inguinal hernia repairs in the highest exposure category would be preventable if the time spent standing/walking could be reduced from ≥6 to <4 hours/day. The repairs might even be postponed by 6–7 years.

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