Background: Although prostate cancer is the most common life-threatening cancer among males in North America, relatively little is known about its etiology. We have conducted a proportional mortality study to generate hypotheses concerning occupational risk factors for the disease.
Methods: Age standardized proportional mortality ratios (PMR) for prostate cancer were calculated for a total of 216 occupations and 88 industries. Separate calculations were done for all male deaths age 20 and up and for deaths that occurred during men's working lifetime (age 20-65).
Results: Elevated mortality from prostate cancer was seen among business owners and managers (PMR = 110; 95% CI = 101-118), brokers (PMR = 184; 95% CI = 122-266), farmers and farm managers (PMR = 112; 95% CI = 105-120), and school teachers (PMR = 133; 95% CI = 101-174). Evaluation by industry shows elevated prostate cancer mortality in agriculture (PMR = 110; 95% CI = 103-118), financial institutions (PMR = 138, 95% CI = 112-170), and transportation equipment manufacture (PMR = 136; 95% CI = 109-168).
Conclusions: The findings suggest that workers in a number of occupations have elevated risks of prostate cancer including farmers and teachers. More detailed cohort and case-control studies, evaluating specific exposures are required before primary prevention programs in the workplace are feasible.