Occupational risk factors for pancreatic cancer: a case-control study based on death certificates from 24 U.S. states

Am J Ind Med. 1999 Aug;36(2):260-70. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199908)36:2<260::aid-ajim5>3.0.co;2-p.


Background: The relation between occupational exposure and pancreatic cancer is not well established. A population-based case-control study based on death certificates from 24 U.S. states was conducted to determine if occupations/industries or work-related exposures to solvents were associated with pancreatic cancer death.

Methods: The cases were 63,097 persons who died from pancreatic cancer occurring in the period 1984-1993. The controls were 252,386 persons who died from causes other than cancer in the same time period.

Results: Industries associated with significantly increased risk of pancreatic cancer included printing and paper manufacturing; chemical, petroleum, and related processing; transport, communication, and public service; wholesale and retail trades; and medical and other health-related services. Occupations associated with significantly increased risk included managerial, administrative, and other professional occupations; technical occupations; and sales, clerical, and other administrative support occupations. Potential exposures to formaldehyde and other solvents were assessed by using a job exposure matrix developed for this study. Occupational exposure to formaldehyde was associated with a moderately increased risk of pancreatic cancer, with ORs of 1.2, 1.2, 1.4 for subjects with low, medium, and high probabilities of exposure and 1.2, 1.2, and 1.1 for subjects with low, medium, and high intensity of exposure, respectively.

Conclusions: The findings of this study did not suggest that industrial or occupational exposure is a major contributor to the etiology of pancreatic cancer. Further study may be needed to confirm the positive association between formaldehyde exposure and pancreatic cancer. Published 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

MeSH terms

  • Blacks
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemical Industry
  • Communication
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Death Certificates
  • Disinfectants / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Formaldehyde / adverse effects
  • Health Occupations
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Paper
  • Petroleum
  • Population Surveillance
  • Printing
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Solvents / adverse effects
  • Transportation
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Whites


  • Disinfectants
  • Petroleum
  • Solvents
  • Formaldehyde