Lymphohematopoietic cancer in styrene-butadiene polymerization workers

Am J Epidemiol. 1992 Oct 1;136(7):843-54. doi: 10.1093/aje/136.7.843.


1,3-Butadiene and styrene are suspected carcinogens and common chemicals used in the synthesis of rubber. To investigate any potential human hazards from exposure to these chemicals, a case-control study of 59 lymphohematopoietic cancers was conducted within a cohort of male workers employed between 1943 and 1982 in eight North American styrene-butadiene rubber polymer-producing plants. A total of 193 controls were matched to the cases by plant, age, year of hire, duration worked, and survival to time of death of the case. Each job was assigned an estimated exposure rank, and each worker's cumulated rank score was calculated on the basis of the time spent in each job throughout his employment. "Exposure" as a dichotomous variable was defined as a log rank score above the mean of the log scores for the total population of cases and controls within a subtype of cancer. Matched-pair analysis identified a strong association between leukemia and butadiene, with an odds ratio of 9.36 (95% confidence interval 2.05-22.9) and an association between styrene and leukemia (odds ratio = 3.13, 95% confidence interval 0.84-11.2) that did not achieve statistical significance. When exposure to both styrene and butadiene was included in a conditional logistic regression model, the odds ratio for butadiene remained high (odds ratio = 7.39), but the estimated association of leukemia with styrene was small. The results of this study support the hypothesis that exposure to butadiene is associated with the risk of leukemia. There also appears to be an additional risk from work in specific subdivisions of the industry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Butadienes / adverse effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemical Industry*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / chemically induced*
  • Lymphoma / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Odds Ratio
  • Regression Analysis
  • Rubber*
  • Styrene
  • Styrenes / adverse effects*


  • Butadienes
  • Styrenes
  • Styrene
  • Rubber
  • 1,3-butadiene