Occupational sunlight exposure and cancer incidence among Swedish construction workers

Epidemiology. 2001 Sep;12(5):552-7. doi: 10.1097/00001648-200109000-00015.


We studied sunlight exposure from outdoor work in relation to cancer, using data from 323,860 men participating in an occupational health service program of the Swedish construction industry. An experienced industrial hygienist assessed the exposure for 200 job tasks. We estimated relative risks (RRs) adjusted for age, smoking, and magnetic field exposure. There was an increased RR in the high-exposure group for myeloid leukemia [RR = 2.0, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 1.1-3.6] and lymphocytic leukemia (RR = 1.7, 95% CI = 0.9-3.2). For non-Hodgkin's lymphoma there was a 30% increase in risk in the high-exposure group (95% CI = 0.9-1.9). There was no increased risk of malignant melanoma, except for tumors of the head, face, and neck in the high-exposure group (RR = 2.0, 95% CI = 0.8-5.2), and we also found an increased risk for malignant melanoma of the eye in this group (RR = 3.4, 95% CI = 1.1-10.5). Outdoor workers had no increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer. Nevertheless, the RR for lip cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) among the high-exposure group was estimated at 1.8 (95% CI = 0.8-3.7). Among other sites, an increased risk of stomach cancer was suggested in this group (RR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.0-1.9). The results for lymphoma, leukemia, and possibly also for stomach cancer might reflect a suppression of the immune system from ultraviolet light in outdoor workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Sweden / epidemiology