Occupational cancer risks suggested among food industry workers are inconclusive. The objective of our study was to assess associations between different cancers and working in the food industry in Finland. The carcinogenic exposures are mainly inhalatory, and we were therefore interested in respiratory cancers in particular. We followed up a cohort of all economically active Finns born between 1906 and 1945 for 30 million person-years during 1971-95. The 1970 Census data on occupations were linked with data on subsequent incident cancer cases. Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for each occupation using the economically active population as the reference. A total of 2,526 incident cancer cases were observed. Elevated risks were observed among male food industry workers for pancreatic (SIR=1.50, CI=1.13-1.96) and kidney cancers (1.51, 1.16-1.94). With respect to specific occupations, there was an excess of lung cancer among female bakers (1.38, 1.01-1.85) and laryngeal cancer among male grain millers (2.60, 1.05-5.36). Occupational exposure is unlikely to be a major risk factor for cancer among Finnish workers employed in typical food industry occupations.
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