Women's occupation and cancer: preliminary analysis of cancer registrations in England and Wales, 1971-1990

Am J Ind Med. 1999 Jul;36(1):172-85. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199907)36:1<172::aid-ajim25>3.0.co;2-x.


Background: In recent years increasing attention has been paid to examining the relation between women's health and their own occupation. The findings presented here relate to an analysis of 381,915 cancers in women registered in England and Wales over the 20-year period 1971-1990.

Methods: To explore the value of the data for epidemiological research, five sites (pleura, bladder, stomach, lung, and breast) and two occupations (agriculture and textile) were selected. Associations between cancer and occupation were evaluated using age and social class adjusted proportional registration ratios (PRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: Pleural cancer risk was increased in a range of occupations with a potential for asbestos exposure (e.g., PRR 608, 95% CI 381-921 for craft and other production process workers), and the well-established link between bladder cancer and employment in the rubber industry was confirmed (PRR 303, 95% CI 188-464). Associations between "dusty" occupations and stomach cancer were noted (e.g., PRR 198, 95% CI 126-298 for ceramic decorators and finishers), and possible links with lung cancer and smoke in the work environment were highlighted (e.g., PRR 167, 95% CI 147-189 for publicans). As a group, agricultural workers were found to be at increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (PRR 164, 95% CI 126-211), and textile workers at increased risk of pleural cancer (PRR 145, 95% CI 111-185). No evidence for an occupational aetiology for breast cancer was found within these data.

Conclusions: Occupational information collected at cancer registration in the United Kingdom can be reliably used to identify groups that may be at increased risk of disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupations / classification
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Textile Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Wales / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data*