Cancer mortality among workers in abattoirs and meatpacking plants: an update

Am J Ind Med. 1995 Mar;27(3):389-403. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700270308.


Workers in abattoirs and meatpacking plants have potential for exposure to bovine leukemia virus (BLV) and bovine papilloma viruses (BPV), which are oncogenic in cattle. These workers also have increased exposure to human papilloma viruses (HPV) and certain chemical carcinogens. We investigated whether such a group showed increased risk of cancers. We report mortality results after an additional 9-year follow-up of a previously studied group of 5,522 workers in abattoirs and 4,589 workers in meatpacking plants. Excess risk of all cancers combined, cancers of the lung, buccal cavity and pharynx, esophagus, colon, bladder, kidney, and bone was observed. Since factors such as tobacco smoking, alcohol, and diet, which have known associations with some of these cancers, were not taken into account, the significance of these findings is not known, except for lung cancer, for which occupational factors are probably involved. Because some of these findings have been consistently reported before, studies that will control for confounding factors as well are now urgently needed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abattoirs*
  • Bovine papillomavirus 1
  • Carcinogens
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Leukemia Virus, Bovine
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Meat-Packing Industry*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • New Jersey / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Papillomaviridae
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors


  • Carcinogens