Occupational risk factors for lung cancer in men and women: a population-based case-control study in Italy

Cancer Causes Control. 2004 Apr;15(3):285-94. doi: 10.1023/B:CACO.0000024223.91059.ed.


Objective: We investigated the role of occupation in lung cancerogenesis in two Northern Italian areas.

Methods: During 1990-1992, occupational histories were obtained for 1171 incident lung cancer cases (956 men, 176 women) and 1553 population controls (1253 men, 300 women) and were evaluated for having been employed in jobs entailing exposure to known or suspected lung carcinogens. A further exploratory analysis on other job titles and branches of industry was conducted.

Results: Among men, we found a smoking-adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 2.1 (95% confidence interval: 1.6-2.8) for exposure to known carcinogens, corresponding to a population attributable risk of 9.5% (6.0-13.0). Non-ferrous metal workers and painters had a significantly increased risk. No association was found for exposure to suspected carcinogens. In the exploratory analysis, the OR was increased for cleaners (OR: 2.7; 1.0-7.4), bakers (5.7; 1.4-24), tailors (6.9; 1.2-39), plumbers and pipe fitters (2.6; 1.0-6.4), welders and flame-cutters (5.6; 2.1-15), dockers and freight handlers (1.7; 1.0-2.7) and construction workers (1.4; 1.1-1.9). Female glass workers, laundry/dry cleaners and workers in rubber industry had an increased risk.

Conclusions: The study indicates that a sizable proportion of lung cancers among men may be due to occupational exposures and suggests that exposure to lung carcinogens occurs in different jobs in women compared to men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinogens / adverse effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemical Industry
  • Facility Design and Construction
  • Female
  • Glass
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Italy
  • Job Description*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Male
  • Metallurgy
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Rubber
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*


  • Carcinogens
  • Rubber