Objective: To investigate the risk of cancer among veterinarians in a large record-linkage study from Sweden.
Methods: We used the nationwide, Swedish Cancer Environment Registry III, which links the Cancer Register data for 1971-1989 to the national population censuses from 1960 and 1970, to compare the incidence of cancer among male veterinarians to that of the remaining part of the active population using multivariable Poisson regression models and standardized incidence ratios. One thousand one hundred and seventy eight men classified as veterinarians or workers in the veterinary industry at either census were identified.
Results: Veterinarians in the veterinary industry experienced increased risk of esophageal (relative risk (RR) 3.78, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.42-10.09), colon (RR: 2.36, 95% CI: 1.42-3.91), pancreatic (RR: 2.10, 95% CI: 0.94-4.68) and brain (RR: 2.51, 95% CI: 1.04-6.03) cancers as well as melanoma of the skin (RR: 2.77, 95% CI: 1.24-6.17). Similar excess risks were observed when veterinarians were compared with individuals of similar socioeconomic status.
Conclusion: The increased risks of esophageal, colon, pancreatic and brain cancers as well as melanoma observed among veterinarians did not seem to be explained by the high socio-economic status of this occupational group. Therefore, it is possible that some of these results reflect the carcinogenicity of occupational exposures, including animal viruses, solar or ionizing radiations and anesthetics.