Occupational risk factors for brain tumors among women in Shanghai, China

J Occup Environ Med. 1995 Mar;37(3):288-93. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199503000-00003.


The etiology of brain cancer is not well understood and few studies have evaluated occupational risk factors among women. We evaluated occupation and industry at time of diagnosis for 276 incident primary brain tumor cases among women in Shanghai, China, for the period 1980-1984, identified through the Shanghai Cancer Registry. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for all occupations and industries with at least three female cases. SIRs compared observed to expected numbers of cases, based on incidence rates for Shanghai and the number of women in each occupation and industry according to the 1982 census. Statistically significant excesses of brain tumors were seen among grain farmers (SIR = 6.5, 95% CI = 1.3-19.1), rubber workers (SIR = 5.0, 95% CI = 1.6-11.6), and workers in transportation equipment manufacture and repair (SIR = 2.3, 95% CI = 1.1-4.3). Risks among textile spinners and winders were of borderline significance (SIR = 1.7, 95% CI = 1.0-2.8). Elevated but nonsignificant risks of 2.0 or greater were seen among nurses, plastic products workers, sanitation workers, painters, and workers in manufacture of equipment for electrical generation, transmission, and distribution. Results for farmers, rubber workers, and painters are consistent with previously reported excesses among these occupations in men. The increase among nurses is a new finding, although elevated risks have been observed among male medical professionals. Risks were elevated with likely exposure to pesticides, particularly among those thought to have a high probability and a high level of exposure (SIR = 3.6, 95% CI = 1.2-8.5).

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Women, Working*