Occupational risk factors for cancer of the central nervous system (CNS) among US women

Am J Ind Med. 1999 Jul;36(1):70-4. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199907)36:1<70::aid-ajim10>3.0.co;2-5.


Background: In a recent report, we found an elevated risk of cancer of the central nervous system (CNS) in several occupations and industries, and a modest association with exposure to solvents and to contact with the public.

Methods: To further explore the occupational risk of CNS cancer among women, we extended the analysis of the previous death certificate-based case-control study, including 12,980 female cases (ICD-9 codes 191 and 192) in 24 US states in 1984-1992 and 51,920 female controls who died from diseases other than malignancies and neurological disorders. We applied newly designed job-exposure matrices for 11 occupational hazards, previously reported as brain cancer risk factors, to the occupation and industry codes in the death certificates. We also conducted a separate analysis of 161 meningioma cases (ICD-9 codes 192.1 and 192.3), a tumor more frequent among women, particularly in the postmenopausal age group.

Results: Overall, CNS cancer risk showed a 20-30% increase among women exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF), methylene chloride, insecticides and fungicides, and contact with the public. Risk for meningioma was elevated among women exposed to lead (OR = 1.9; 95% CI 1.0, 3.9). CNS cancer did not show a clear pattern of risk increase by probability and intensity of exposure to any of the explored risk factors. Cross-classification by probability and intensity of exposure did not reveal any significant trend. Cases were too few to explore trends of meningioma by probability and intensity of exposure to lead.

Conclusions: We did not find evidence of a strong contribution of 11 occupational hazards to the etiology of CNS cancer. However, limitations of the occupational information might have reduced our ability to detect clear patterns of risk.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / etiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Industry / classification
  • Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Meningioma / epidemiology
  • Meningioma / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupations / classification
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics as Topic
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*