Background: There is no consensus whether firefighters are at increased cancer risk for particular cancers. Previous studies have been small, mostly investigated cancer mortality, and suggested increased risks for brain, bladder, testicular, prostate, thyroid and colo-rectal cancers, leukemia, and melanoma.
Methods: Records of all male cancers registered in California during 1988-2003 were obtained. Firefighters were identified from occupation and industry text fields. Logistic regression analysis used other cancers as controls.
Results: Of the 804,000 eligible records, 3,659 had firefighting as their occupation. Firefighting was associated with testicular cancer (odds ratio = 1.54, 95% confidence interval: 1.18-2.02), melanoma (1.50, 1.33-1.70), brain cancer (1.35, 1.06-1.72), esophageal cancer (1.48, 1.14-1.91), and prostate cancer (1.22, 1.12-1.33).
Conclusions: Use of other-cancer controls and lack of an occupational history may have biased relative risks towards the null. However, this study, which contained more firefighter cancers than any previous epidemiologic study, produced evidence supporting some prior hypotheses.