Occupation and leukemia: a population-based case-control study in Iowa and Minnesota

Am J Ind Med. 2001 Jul;40(1):3-14. doi: 10.1002/ajim.1066.


Background: Studies have suggested that risk of leukemia may be associated with occupational or industrial exposures and risk may vary by the histological type of the disease.

Methods: A population-based case-control study was conducted in Iowa and Minnesota to evaluate the association between various occupations, industries, and occupational exposures and leukemia risk. A total of 513 cases and 1,087 controls was included in the study. A lifetime occupational history and other risk factor information were collected through in-person interviews, and a job-exposure matrix was used to assess possible risks associated with specific exposures.

Results: A significantly increased risk of leukemia was observed among agricultural service industries and among nursing and healthcare workers. Janitors, cleaners, and light truck drivers also experienced increased risk. Those employed in plumbing, heating and air conditioning industries, and sales of nondurable goods (such as paints and varnishes) had an increased risk. Printers, painters, and workers in the food and metal industries had a nonsignificantly increased risk of leukemia. Analyses by specific exposures and histology of leukemia showed that risk of leukemia associated with occupational or industrial exposures may vary by histological type of the disease.

Conclusions: An increased risk of leukemia among workers employed in agricultural industries, nursing and healthcare workers, and in a few occupations with possible exposure to solvents is consistent with earlier studies. Associations of risk with occupations not observed previously deserve further assessment. Published 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Iowa / epidemiology
  • Leukemia / epidemiology*
  • Leukemia / etiology
  • Leukemia, Lymphoid / epidemiology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupations*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors