Objective: The aim of this study was to study the incidence of cancer and deaths from cancer and other diseases among patients referred to the 11 clinics of occupational medicine in Sweden between 1967 and 1987 for examination because of exposure to organic solvents.
Methods: The cohort comprised 5791 persons, 5283 men and 508 women. Information about cancer incidence and causes of death was collected from the Cancer Register of the National Board of Health and Welfare and the National Death Register of Statistics Sweden, respectively. The expected values were calculated from the national death rates and incidence rates of cancer.
Results: The overall mortality rate was close to expected, but the mortality rate was decreased for diseases of the circulatory system [standardized mortality ratio (SMR) 0.7, 95% confidence limit (95% CI) 0.5-0.9] and increased for suicide (SMR 2.0, 95% CI 1.2-3.2). The total cancer incidence was slightly elevated [standardized incidence ratio (SIR) 1.2, 95% CI 0.99-1.4], and some specific cancer sites showed an increased incidence, although the lower confidence limits surpassed one. Malignancies of the lymphohematopoietic system and cancer of the uterine cervix had an increased risk (SIR 1.9, 95% CI 1.2-3.2, and SIR 3.7, 95% CI 2.2-6.2, respectively). Patients with presumerably high solvent exposure had an SIR of 1.4 for all malignancies (95% CI 0.9-2.1) and those with presumerably low exposure had an SIR of 1.1 (95% CI 0.9-1.4).
Conclusions: The study showed an increased risk for malignancies of the hematopoietic system and the uterine cervix among patients originally examined with regard to solvent-induced disorders. There was also an increased risk of suicide and a decreased risk of death from diseases of the circulatory system. There was no increased risk for deaths from mental or neurological disorders.