Cancer incidence and work place exposure among Swedish biomedical research personnel

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2001 Oct;74(8):558-64. doi: 10.1007/s004200100267.


Objective: This cohort study aimed to elucidate cancer occurrence in relation to occupational exposure to specific chemical, biological and physical agents among biomedical research laboratory personnel in Sweden.

Methods: Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) for the period 1970-1994 were calculated for specific exposures in the laboratory group (n = 3,277) and for personnel working in non-laboratory departments (n = 2,011), as an internal reference group. Expected numbers were based on national cancer rates.

Results: The total number of cancer cases was lower than expected in both laboratory and non-laboratory personnel. Elevated SIRs were noted for malignant melanoma among female laboratory employees for whom use was reported of solvents (SIR 2.73; CI 1.10-5.63) and of selected carcinogenic (International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) group 2B) agents (SIR 3.15; CI 1.16-6.85). A light increase of the risk estimate for breast cancer was also observed.

Conclusions: In general, there were few cases of cancer in this comparatively young cohort, but the findings give some indication of increased risks for malignant melanoma in female laboratory personnel after exposure to organic solvents or substances classified by IARC as being possibly carcinogenic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Research Personnel*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Sweden / epidemiology