Cancer incidence among male Massachusetts firefighters, 1987-2003

Am J Ind Med. 2008 May;51(5):329-35. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20549.


Background: Firefighters are known to be exposed to recognized or probable carcinogens. Previous studies have found elevated risks of several types of cancers in firefighters.

Methods: Standardized morbidity odds ratio (SMORs) were used to evaluate the cancer risk in white, male firefighters compared to police and all other occupations in the Massachusetts Cancer Registry from 1986 to 2003. Firefighters and police were identified by text search of the usual occupation field. All other occupations included cases with identifiable usual occupations not police or firefighter. Control cancers were those not associated with firefighters in previous studies.

Results: Risks were moderately elevated among firefighters for colon cancer (SMOR = 1.36, 95% CI: 1.04-1.79), and brain cancer (SMOR = 1.90, 95% CI: 1.10-3.26). Weaker evidence of increased risk was observed for bladder cancer (SMOR = 1.22, 95% CI: 0.89-1.69), kidney cancer (SMOR = 1.34, 95% CI: 0.90-2.01), and Hodgkin's lymphoma (SMOR = 1.81, 95% CI: 0.72-4.53).

Conclusions: These findings are compatible with previous reports, adding to the evidence that firefighters are at increased risk of a number of types of cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Fires*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Police
  • Population Surveillance
  • Registries
  • Rescue Work*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors