February 16, 2010 / 1:03 AM / 9 years ago

Five percent of lung cancers in men are job related: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Certain occupations can increase the risk of lung cancer for men with Italian researchers finding five percent of male lung cancers are job related although smoking remains by far the greatest cause of the disease.

Dario Consonni of the Foundation IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico in Milan and colleagues found that about 5 percent of lung cancers in men are job-related with chemicals and other on-the-job hazards “play a remarkable role” in lung cancer risk.

Their study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, looked at the link between lung cancer and jobs either known or suspected to increase the risk of the disease in 2,100 people diagnosed with lung cancer and 2,120 healthy individuals matched by age, gender and residence.

For men, about 12 percent had worked in occupations listed as known lung cancer risks, such as mining, metal working, and certain types of construction work.

Men in the occupations deemed risky were 74 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with lung cancer.

The strongest associations were seen for ceramic and pottery jobs and brick manufacturing, as well as for those working in manufacturing of non-iron metals.

The same percentage of cancer patients and healthy individuals — about one in five — worked in the occupations suspected to be associated with lung cancer, indicating no overall increased risk.

But the researchers did find a “marked elevated risk” for gas station attendants, and for people working in leather tanneries, glass workers, and welders, although these were based on a small number of people.

Among the 385 women included in the study, just three of the cancer patients and two of the healthy individuals worked in occupations known to be associated with lung cancer.

This translated to a four-fold increased cancer risk, but because such a small number of women were exposed, this figure was “imprecise,” the researchers noted.

They did find “suggestive” increases in cancer risk for female launderers and dry cleaners.

“The findings of this study confirm the need for continuous monitoring and improved control of work-related exposures both for prevention and workers’ compensation purposes,” the researchers concluded.

Reporting by Reuters Health, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith

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