A pilot case-cohort study of brain cancer in poultry and control workers

Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(3):343-50. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2013.878734. Epub 2014 Feb 24.


We conducted an exploratory study to investigate which exposures (including poultry oncogenic viruses) are associated with brain cancer in poultry workers. A total of 46,819 workers in poultry and nonpoultry plants from the same union were initially followed for mortality. Brain cancer was observed to be in excess among poultry workers. Here we report on a pilot case-cohort study with cases consisting of 26 (55%) of the 47 brain cancer deaths recorded in the cohort, and controls consisting of a random sample of the cohort (n = 124). Exposure information was obtained from telephone interviews, and brain cancer mortality risk estimated by odds ratios. Increased risk of brain cancer was associated with killing chickens, odds ratio (OR) = 5.8 (95% confidence interval, 1.2-28.3); working in a shell-fish farm, OR = 13.0 (95% CI, 1.9-84.2); and eating uncooked fish, OR = 8.2 (95% CI, 1.8-37.0). Decreased risks were observed for chicken pox illness, OR = 0.2 (95% CI, 0.1-0.6), and measles vaccination, OR = 0.2 (95% CI, 0.1-0.6). Killing chickens, an activity associated with the highest occupational exposure to poultry oncogenic viruses, was associated with brain cancer mortality, as were occupational and dietary shellfish exposures. These findings are novel.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Food-Processing Industry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Odds Ratio
  • Oncogenic Viruses / pathogenicity
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poultry / virology
  • United States