Aim: To monitor the occurrence of cancer in a recently defined cohort of UK rubber workers.
Methods: A cohort of 8651 male and female workers from 41 UK rubber factories has been enumerated. All employees had a minimum of 12 months employment and were first employed at one of the participating factories in the period 1982-91. Mortality and cancer incidence data for the period 1983-2004 were compared with expected values based on appropriate national rates.
Results: Mortality from lung cancer was close to expectation for males [observed 22, standardized mortality ratio (SMR) 93] and females (observed 2, SMR 70). Mortality from stomach cancer was also unexceptional in males (observed 4, SMR 86) and females (observed 0, SMR 0). Although based on small numbers, significantly elevated mortality was shown for multiple myeloma in males (observed 5, SMR 385) and females (observed 2, SMR 952). All seven of these latter deaths occurred in workers from the general rubber goods (GRG) sector.
Conclusions: The findings should be treated with caution as they relate to a relatively early period of follow-up. Nevertheless, they hold out the prospect that the elevated SMRs for stomach and lung cancers reported for historical cohorts of UK rubber workers will not be present in more recent cohorts. The elevated occurrence of multiple myeloma may represent no more than a chance finding. Alternatively, these findings may reflect the presence of an unrecognized occupational cancer hazard in parts of the GRG sector of the UK rubber industry.