A nested case-control study of kidney cancer among refinery/petrochemical workers

Environ Health Perspect. 1996 Jun;104(6):642-50. doi: 10.1289/ehp.96104642.


A nested case-control study was designed to evaluate whether a nearly twofold excess of kidney cancer among workers at a refinery/petrochemical plant was associated with cumulative exposure to C2-C5 saturated, C2-C5 unsaturated, C6-C10 aliphatic saturated, C6-C10 aliphatic unsaturated, and C6-C10 aromatic process streams. Nonoccupational risk factors were body mass index (BMI), blood pressure (both measured at about age 28), and smoking. There was no significant association with cumulative exposure or tenure as estimated by conditional logistic regression and adjusted for nonoccupational risk factors. Categorical analysis showed increased odds ratios only in the second (low) and fourth (high) quartiles compared to the first quartile reference group of lowest exposed workers, and a three-quarter-fold increased odds ratio for > 32 years' tenure compared to the < 25-year reference group. The number of cases was small with wide confidence intervals around estimate of risk, so the possibility of an exposure-response trend cannot be ruled out. Multivariate analysis identified overweight (high BMI; p < 0.01) as the most important risk factor in this data set, followed by tenure and increased blood pressure. There was a weak association with current smoking, but not with pack-years smoked. The risk of kidney cancer for a nonsmoker with normal blood pressure but 25% overweight was increased about 2.6-fold (95% CI = 1.2-5.4). The risk of kidney cancer for a nonsmoker of normal weight with high blood pressure (e.g., 150/110), was increased about 4.5 (95% CI, 0.8-26).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemical Industry
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Petroleum / adverse effects*
  • Smoking
  • United States


  • Petroleum