Cancer mortality patterns among hairdressers and barbers in 24 US states, 1984 to 1995

J Occup Environ Med. 2001 Mar;43(3):250-8. doi: 10.1097/00043764-200103000-00013.


We evaluated cancer mortality patterns among hairdressers and barbers, according to occupation, coded on 7.2 million death certificates in 24 states from 1984 to 1995. Of the 38,721 deaths among white and black hairdressers and barbers of both sexes, 9495 were from all malignant neoplasms. Mortality odds ratios were significantly elevated for all malignant neoplasms, lung cancer, and all lymphatic and hemopoietic cancers among black and white female hairdressers. White female hairdressers had significant excess mortality from cancers of the stomach, colon, pancreas, breast, and bladder and from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and lymphoid leukemia; mortality from these cancers was also elevated among black female hairdressers. White male hairdressers had significantly elevated mortality from non-melanoma skin cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Mortality from all malignant neoplasms, although significantly elevated among both white and black female hairdressers, was significantly below the null for white male hairdressers. Black and white male barbers had significantly elevated mortality from stomach and pharyngeal cancer, respectively. A significant deficit in mortality from all neoplasms and cancers of the pancreas, lung, and prostate was noted for white male barbers. This large study of cancer mortality among hairdressers and barbers showed some differences in mortality patterns by gender and race. Further studies are required to determine if specific occupational exposures may explain some of the elevated cancer rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Barbering*
  • Beauty Culture*
  • Blacks
  • Death Certificates
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupations*
  • United States
  • Whites