Wood dust exposure and cancer incidence: a retrospective cohort study of furniture workers in Estonia

Am J Ind Med. 2000 May;37(5):501-11. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(200005)37:5<501::aid-ajim6>3.0.co;2-t.


Background: Occupational wood dust exposure is associated with increased risk of sinonasal cancer in men. However, little is known whether it is associated with sinonasal cancer in women or with malignancies of other sites.

Methods: In a retrospective cohort study of furniture workers, cancer incidence in 3723 men and 3063 women between 1968 and 1995 was compared to the incidence in the general population of Estonia. Cancer risks were analyzed by employment duration and occupation.

Results: The standardized incidence ratio (SIR) for all cancers did not differ significantly from one. Two men and one woman had sinonasal cancer (expected 1.07 and 0.53, respectively). Significantly increased risk of colon cancer was seen in the cohort (SIR 1.65, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.22-2.17). Subjects employed for 10 years and over had significant excess of colon cancer (SIR 2.29, 95% CI 1.28-3.77) and rectal cancer (SIR 2.10, 95% CI 1.05-3.76) in the analysis by employment duration using exposure with a latency of 20 years. The nonsignificant excess of pharyngeal cancer in men (SIR 1.82) and lung cancer in women (SIR 1.43) was restricted to short-term workers.

Conclusions: This study found an excess of colon and rectal cancer in furniture workers. There was no increase in total cancer risk.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Employment
  • Estonia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interior Design and Furnishings
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Nose Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pharyngeal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Rectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Wood*


  • Dust