Cancer in electrical workers: an analysis of cancer registrations in England, 1981-87

Br J Cancer. 1996 Apr;73(7):935-9. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1996.167.


Associations between work in the electrical and electronic industry and cancer incidence were assessed using data for 371 890 cancers registered in England between 1981 and 1987, of which 7981 were in electrical workers. Proportional registration ratios (PRRs) were calculated, both with and without the commonest cancers, with adjustment for age, social class, cancer registry of origin and sex. Of four cancers previously linked with work in the electrical and electronic industry (leukaemia, brain, breast and melanoma), only two were significantly raised: leukaemia (PRR=124, 95% CI=109-142, based on 217 cases) and malignant brain cancer (PRR=118, 95% CI=103-136, based on 204 cases). A significantly increased risk was also observed for pleural cancer (PRR=201, 95% CI=167-241, based on 115 cases). The histology of almost 90% of pleural cancers was coded as mesothelioma, confirming the previously observed association between pleural cancer and exposure to asbestos in electrical workers. The extent to which workplace exposures to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields explains the excesses seen here for leukaemia and brain cancer requires further study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Electricity*
  • Electrons
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Registries
  • Smoking