Background: No single occupational or environmental agent has been established as causing ovarian cancer, existing studies often being based on ecologic or proportional mortality data in which potential confounders related to reproductive history have not been taken into account.
Methods: This study linked 324 job titles of occupationally active Finnish women (n = 892,591) at 1970 census with incidence of ovarian cancer (Finnish Cancer Registry, 5,072 cases) during 1971-1995 (over 15 million person-years). The job titles were converted into indicators of exposure to 33 agents, using a national job-exposure matrix based on measurements and surveys (FINJEM). Poisson regression analyses were performed with stratification by birth cohort, follow-up period, and socioeconomic status, and adjusted for mean number of children, mean age at first delivery, and turnover rate for each job title.
Results: We found indications of elevated risks for aromatic hydrocarbon solvents (standardized incidence ratio 1.3 (95% CI 1.0-1.7), leather dust (1.4; 0.7-2.7), man-made vitreous fibers (1.3; 0.9-1.8), and high levels of asbestos (1.3; 0.9-1.8), and diesel (1.7; 0.7-4.1), and gasoline (1.5; 1.0-2.0) engine exhausts). Previously reported findings for hairdressers and women in the printing industry were supported in our data, but not for women in dry cleaning jobs.
Conclusions: Given the various drawbacks in linkage studies and job-exposure matrices, the excesses found in this study need confirmation in individual-level studies.